18 May 2017 UCA sorority planning mission trip to Guatemala
by Callie Sterling
Fifteen members of Alpha Sigma Tau from the University of Central Arkansas have a unique summer trip planned abroad. The college students, along with two mothers, will embark on a mission trip to Sumpango, Guatemala, from July 23-29.
“I organized this particular trip through a ministry called Next Step Ministries,” said AST member Ali Cothern. “I have been on previous mission trips to Guatemala with this organization.”
Last year, three AST members accompanied Ali on a trip to Guatemala. This year, she wanted to extend the invitation to more of her AST sisters.
Ali was overjoyed to share the spiritual experience with her sorority sisters. “When I decided that I wanted to lead a group of people to Guatemala, my sisters were the first ones I thought about,” Ali said. “They have been my biggest support system when it came to my trips to Guatemala and in my day to day life. During my new member semester, they decided to choose Guatemala as one of our philanthropies, and we all raised money for the community. I am beyond excited to experience this with them because I know we will all grow closer. Aside from that, it’s really neat to see someone giving back to a community. I’m excited to see God working through them.”
The group hopes that these efforts will impact the people of Sumpango for a substantial length of time.
“I feel that organizations such as Next Step give the people of Guatemala ongoing hope,” Ali’s mother, Michelle Cothern, said. “They don’t just show up for a week, do good things and then leave. They form long-lasting relationships and give the community hope.”
The group of women will participate in a variety of philanthropic activities while in Guatemala.
“We will be doing several different things to help the community like building houses; helping rebuild a church; working in the orphanage with children who are HIV positive; and going on home visits to spend time with the families in the community,” said AST member Morgan Plumley.
This will be the first time that many of the women will get to experience a mission trip.
“I’ve never been on a mission trip, and I’m so excited to get to go on this trip with friends,” said Morgan. “I know that together we are stronger and can provide support to help these families.”
The group prepared extensively for the trip by fundraising, educating themselves on Guatemala’s culture and by partaking in various mission prep conversations.
“We prepared individually and as a group,” Morgan said. “I prepared financially by sending letters to my family and friends. I also asked for prayers and explained our trip in each letter. As a group, we did several different fundraisers like working gas pumps, working at a coffee shop, helping serve and clean at Moe’s Southwest Grill and sold T-shirts. Of course, it is important to understand some of their culture and what to expect when we get there. To prepare, we had several mission preps together, discussing all kinds of topics.”
Ali describes her experiences in Guatemala as incredible.
“Guatemala is more impactful for me, personally, than I could have ever imagined it to be,” Ali said. “The people of Sumpango have taught me things I could have never learned in the states. They have taught me, and continue to teach me, that life is not about money or materialistic things. They have way less than we do, but they are the happiest people I have ever met.”
Ali describes the people of Sumpango as loving and spiritually faithful.
“They put everything into God and into their relationships with one another,” Ali said. “They love people like I never could. It’s honestly something you have to experience for yourself. It’s impactful for me, spiritually, because it also gives me hope. It’s so extremely hard not to get caught up in life back home; but when I’m over there, it’s so simple and so easy. They give me hope as well. They love the God I love in the most amazing way. The people of Sumpango, Guatemala, are my biggest mentors and the most amazing people on this planet.”
Those who will travel to Guatemala for the first time are hoping to have a positive impact on the citizens of Sumpango.
“Beyond the obvious of hoping to make a small difference in the lives of others, I hope and pray that I can come away from this experience changed,” said Michelle. “I’m trying not to have expectations as to how and what that change looks like. My prayer is that God uses me and I am open to His plan.”
For more information or to donate funds for the mission trip, email Michelle Cothern at [email protected]