El Paso End of Week Reflections

After an exhausting week, a trip to White Sands National Park was exactly what we needed to recoup. We left early in the morning with a group from Augustana University and drove for about an hour before arriving at the park. We passed through a citizenship checkpoint on the way. When we arrived at the park, we stopped at the gift shop to pick up some sleds to ride down the sand dunes. The weather was perfect; not too hot or too cold. The sand was so bright that even with clouds some of us still wore sunglasses. Hiking up sand dunes was extremely difficult. In contrast to the sand we had all experienced at the beach, this sand was cooler and covered a much greater area. Spending the morning outside and sledding with the other students was a refreshing change.

When we returned to the church after visiting the national park, Crystal Massey, the volunteer coordinator of the American Immigration Council in Washington D.C, presented to several groups participating in the border immersion. She talked about what the American Immigration Council does, shared some personal stories, and the process of seeking asylum. She was knowledgeable about current immigration issues. Her presentation helped piece together the information we learned throughout the week and furthered our understanding about immigration from countries other than Mexico.

Sylvia then took us on a guided driving tour through the Stahmann Pecan Farms. She shared her experiences living on the world’s largest pecan farm in the U.S. We learned that the original farm had its own bank, grocery store, hospital, gas station, and even an airport. Driving through, the rows of pecan trees seemed endless. We were surprised to see that the pecans grew on trees.

Our next stop after the farm tour was a small town called Mesilla. It was originally a part of Mexico and it holds a lot of its heritage. Many of the original shops, restaurants, and roads were still there.

After a busy day, we stopped by a local Thai restaurant to get bubble tea. We’d been planning to get it since we drove past the restaurant on our first day in Las Cruces. A few of us had never tried it before, but we all enjoyed it. So far, we have all been learning lots and felt immersed in the city and the culture. We are looking forward to sharing more of our stories from the trip when we return this weekend!

Jamie and Titus – Student Team Leaders

El Paso Days 3-4 Reflections

Wow, the past few days have been really informative. We started Tuesday out at the border wall in El Paso hearing from border control. They talked a lot about the issues that are controversial, and a lot of us students felt as if they were just defending themselves. They provided basic information but seemed to be lacking detail. It was still good to hear from them, but our host informed us of other experiences opposite of what they told us. We got to walk along the wall and also think and process all of the information we just received. We had lunch at Cafe Mayapan, a traditional Mayan restaurant. SO GOOD! We visited the Walmart memorial. From this spot in the parking lot we can see Juarez, the mountains, and El Paso all as one community. You can’t see borders from where you stand.

Our host partner shared her personal experience with migration and how it has affected her own family’s life. That was very emotional to listen to. We finished Day 3 out listening to Ruben Garcia who is the founder of Annunciation House, which has been a hospitality and welcoming place for migrants and refugees seeking asylum. He wanted to move us into action with his stories and what he’s seen and knows. He encouraged us to vote and volunteer and think about what we want for our future as citizens of this country. It was a long but inspiring day. We came home ready to sleep for sure.

On day 4 we started by listening to someone in the Immersion organization inform us on the court system. We went from this presentation straight to the U.S District Court. It was a tough experience for us to witness. We can always imagine this scene, but being there and hearing shackles and the commotion really puts your heart into a new position. Because of the “zero-tolerance” policy the court now tries immigrants with former deportation backgrounds as felons. The only crime they committed was crossing the border again. This is an issue because the USA can be seen as the only home, because it is where they have lived for so many years, either because of DACA or other circumstances. We did not sit through the entire processing, because there were 64 immigrants. This was a hard part of the day, but we got to relax and explore more of Las Cruces after. We ended the day hearing about hospitality for refugees and about the MPP (migrant protection protocol). This was a very informative presentation, considering there was a Supreme Court ruling on it today. We ate dinner with the church and other immersion groups. We have enjoyed the weather by debriefing outside and taking a short walk to Baskin Robbins.

Thank you for all your prayers through this journey of ours.


Victoria Gross and Sadie Escalona

El Paso – Early Week Reflections

As soon as our team landed in El Paso, we took to the windows at our gate to admire the Franklin Mountains and surrounding landscape. “Where is the border?” and “How close is Mexico?” were our initial responses as we made our way to and through Las Cruces, NM during our first days.
After a day of settling in and getting our bearings at Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces, we were ready to dive in and learn more about the communities around us. We started the day by assisting friend of Border Servant Corps, Carmen, in making gorditas (a masa pastry stuffed with meats, veggies, and spices). We also met our peers and fellow leaders from Augustana University, with whom we shared fellowship and the preparation of our meal.

Each of us was moved by God’s presence in Carmen’s life as she shared her story with us after lunch. Carmen felt an urgency to cross into the US when her daughter became in immediate need of a kidney transplant. She left behind her three sons with the mission to give her daughter the treatment sufficient to keep her alive. Upon reflection, it was clear that many of us related to the “angels” she cited as hers and her daughter’s saving grace. God placed people in Carmen’s life to get her daughter the care necessary to live a longer life and keep them out of the eye of immigration officials. A few of us recognized angels in our own lives who have guided us through difficult moments and reinforced our faith.  Above all, Carmen instilled in us that no matter the hardships we face emotionally or economically, we must maintain a strong foundation of faith. She stressed that material possessions and wants are nothing without the reinforcement of our beliefs, a sentiment that hit close to home after experiencing the aftermath of last week’s tornado.

We spent the remainder of our afternoon at Peace Lutheran Church learning about the legal advocacy happening in the borderlands with the ACLU. This presentation planted the seed that there are things we can do in our communities to advocate for immigrants and their families.

The day ended on a high note with a surprise private concert from award-winning New Mexico artist, Gilbert Uribe of the band ‘Nosotros’. Gilbert’s songs shared the message that we are all born of the same earth, the same God, and that we all should recognize that this human experience binds us no matter where we are from. We enjoyed his music and message in a beautiful courtyard on this sunny day. This experience allowed us to see how many positive elements are born out of immigration and how immigrants have influenced American music and culture for decades.

As we headed back to the church, we walked around downtown Las Cruces to get a better view of Organ Mountain, whose peaks captivated our attention during our drive into the city on our first day. The Mountain serves as a reminder that each of us have our own steep hills to climb, both in this weeklong journey and in our own lives back in Nashville. The peaks and valleys of the Mountain signified the emotions we’d experienced during our first days as well. Most notably, the mountain views have grounded us in the midst of thinking about our anxieties this week.

I choose to close with Isaiah 2:2: “In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills and all nations will stream to it.” Although we are at the beginning of our experience here, it is clear that we share common ground in the pursuit of safety, security, health, happiness, and in many cases, faith. Borders may divide, but it is clear that God is working in the lives of people in both of the nations on our minds this week.

Lauren Lauzon — Team Leader

Macy Hudson: When My Thinking Changed

Macy Hudson, a sophomore studying Faith & Social Justice and Corporate Communications.  She serves as the Data and Evaluation Chair for Belmont on Mission’s Missional Engagement Council, on the Room in the Inn leadership team, as well as a student leader for Plunge trips.  Today, Macy is sharing about her perspectives on being on mission have changed in her time of service.

For years, I had this dream: I wanted to go on a mission trip. I had seen all of my friends go with their churches, to another country, in matching shirts, to serve, and ultimately come back with a transformed life and a camera full of pictures. In my mind, these trips seemed perfect, and after many attempts to convince my church to go on one, I became closed off to serving anywhere except a third-world country mission trip setting. My church was particularly focused on serving the community I lived in, and I didn’t understand why. There were countries with no running water. No schooling. No understanding of Jesus. Coming up on my sophomore year of high school, I found myself filled with anger. Why did my congregation seem to only care for their people? Aren’t we as Christians called to serve the least of these? Filled with confusion and doubt, I signed up for a mission trip myself with an organization where I was able to go to Puerto Rico with high schoolers from all over the country. I packed my bag and flew to a new place, hopeful for revival and transformation in the community I would be serving. 


Two weeks later, I arrived back in Tennessee, with a new realization about my life. I was set on going on that specific kind of mission trip because it looked fun and appealing. I was so caught up in wanting to fill my own insecurity of feeling inadequate that the concept of being a hero or greater than thee caught my eye. My jealously of my friends’ experiences on mission trips was fueled by the lack of confidence in what my personal mission was as a beloved child of God. By centering those feelings on a single type of mission, I was limiting myself to experiencing only a single quality of God. It took me setting my pride aside to vulnerably uncover my deepest self. 


God has a quite ironic way of working. Upon returning home, I discovered my strong love for children in the foster care system. I felt a direct and clear call to child advocacy as a vocation and realized that I was made to serve the community around me. My church’s community outreach that I was quick to judge ended up being a great tool to get me plugged into local service. I was able to understand and deeply appreciate how committed my church was to serving their neighbors and how that is just as much a mission as a trip to another country is. 


This experience taught me not only humility but also vulnerability. Because I was drowning in self-doubt, I constructed a picture-perfect mission trip in my mind and chose for myself that this was God’s call for my life to me. This is not to say that this type of mission is bad in any way, I just didn’t have the right intentions towards these trips and was close-minded to any other form of service but them. Through this, God revealed to me how my story in God’s mission is one of openness. I became able to stretch my arms out and pray for God to use me how He pleases instead of praying Him to use me in the ways I desired. This small mindset change welcomed transformation in my life in abundant ways.  

If you have any questions about Macy’s experience, any of the programs that she is involved in, or Belmont on Mission in general, feel free to reach out to Macy or any of the Belmont on Mission team!  Be sure to follow us on social media @BelmontOnMission to stay in the know about what’s going on!

Tools for Your Mission

When we are preparing to take part in God’s mission, in whatever capacity, there is a significant amount of planning that is required.  From booking flights, to learning about the culture in which you will serve, to tracking down the right kind of bug spray— it seems like there is so much that we must do ourselves.

While all this preparation is absolutely necessary in getting ready to travel somewhere, when it comes to going on mission, you must prepare your heart to be open to what the lord has for you through your service.  Here are a few helpful tools for you to use in order to help you prepare your heart for the mission and service that you will take part in.

  1. The Spirituality of Fundraising, by Henri Nouwen, is a short read detailing how trusting God to fund your mission is a great testament to God’s faithfulness.
  2. The Nazareth Manifesto, by Sam Wells, looks at different approaches to service.  This piece highlights the beauty in the equality of the Kingdom of God.
  3. The Good Missionary, by Samuel Ikua Gachagua and Claire Diaz-Ortiz, helps us look at the way we serve, why we serve, and what the outcomes are when we let God guide our service.

Spring break trips are in just a couple of months!  Use the time you have before hand to prepare your heart to go alongside God in God’s great story.

If you have any questions about these resources or Belmont on Mission in general, please reach out! Be sure to follow us on social media: Instagram – @BelmontOnMission; Twitter – @BelmontOn

Honduras Day 6

Sam Smith, Patsy Bane, MaKenzie Firek, and Emerald Lupari

Today is the last day of the trip and I couldn’t be more thankful to be able to serve on the mission trip this week. The day started off at the clinic site with the most gorgeous view of the mountain. Between the view and the people of the community, I had an overwhelming sense of gratefulness, peace, and gratitude.

While working in the pharmacy, we were asked if anyone would like to deliver a food bag to a family in need. I felt very compelled to be apart of delivering the food bag and praying with the family. After delivering the food bag, Kirio, the preacher and pastor of the community, asked if we would do a house visit to a local woman who was home ill and was unable to come to the clinic. Upon arrival, we met an older woman, Julia, in bed. Julia was in extreme pain to a huge mass that was discovered in her colon. There wasn’t much we could do, but when we asked if there was anything we could do they asked for prayer. We prayed for/with Julia and left with the promise of coming back to deliver some medication to help her find relief as well as bring back a doctor. The family gifted us with a bundle of plantains as a thank you gift for coming to see them. I was speechless and kept thinking that we didn’t do anything except pray. I couldn’t comprehend that this family, who just got these plantains from the field and was going to be using them as their dinner, had just gifted us with their meal. I had so many emotions running through my mind that I was having trouble processing it. When we returned with the medications and the doctor, we found out the unfortunate news that Julia had colon cancer.  Palliative care is her only option at this time. I was beyond heartbroken to hear the news and as a group, we continued to pray for her well being. We also prayed for God to help her find some relief. As we were leaving, I leaned down to say my goodbye while Julia continued praying and thanking God for sending us to help her. I was brought to tears but was able to take away how selfless, grateful, and appreciative Julia was. I was able to leave knowing that Julia was going to find some relief and was beyond blessed to have been able to pray with her as she fights this awful disease.

Overall, I get to leave this trip with so much love, new memories, and lasting relationships. I am already counting down the days until I can serve with God once again to love and serve my neighbor.

— Emmy Lupari, College of Pharmacy student

Honduras Day 5

(Ali Gean, Emily Wilcox, and Lisa Marie Harris)

I’ve learned more in 5 days on this trip than what feels like a whole semester of school. Also life will never be same after discovering my love for granitas. During this trip my perspective has completely changed and my story has a new page to be added. Today we went to a remote community in the mountains a couple hours away from Jovenes. I started out counseling, filling and handing out food bags. I had help with interpreting by the sweetest boy named Daniel. He is a young man from Jovenes en Camino and, despite his situation, he is not bitter or resentful towards others. He is beyond generous and has been invaluable to our efforts along with the other interpreters. I couldn’t have triaged patients without the help of Louise, Marvin, and Emmanuel. They get up at 5am to do chores for two hours before they work with us all day long. Daniel never missed a beat. He was always ready to help me counsel. Today he told me he wants to be a pilot when he grows up because he likes to be up high above the world. I could hear the passion and determination in his voice. I can easily relate to that in my story to become a healthcare provider. I am beyond thankful that God put me here this week to meet Daniel. We have gotten really close over the past few days even to the point where Daniel says he misses me between riding to different clinics. Daniel taught me three things in just one day: to be generous no matter the obstacle, dream big knowing that God will provide and love when world hasn’t given you a reason to love.

(Daniel and Lisa Marie on the far right)

— Ali Gean, College of Pharmacy Student


Honduras Day 4

(Emerald Lupari, Patsy Bane, and Mackenzie Firek)

Our time in Honduras is coming to an end. However, each day presents an experience completely different fromthe last days. Today, we spent time in Las Delicias, a small village in the Honduran mountains. This trip has given me time to reflect on how God intertwined my story with all the people I meet and those who came with me. At the beginning of the day, I worked in triage and one of the patients was an elderly lady. She sat down with tears in her eyes and immediately started speaking in Spanish. Although the language barrier prevents me from comprehending what she was saying, I could understand what she was trying to tell me. The interpreter then informed me that the lady had lost her son recently and was having trouble sleeping at night since. Listening to her story, I was in awe to think about how God had orchestrated our lives to meet at this moment. Everything I had done from choosing a profession in pharmacy to choosing to go to Belmont brought me to this one moment were our stories intertwined. This trip has taught me to cherish every moment and know there is a reason my paths cross with certain people in life. When I return back to America, I do not want to put the lesson I have learned here in a box and set it on the self. However, I want to remember to be grateful and know there is a perfect plan for every story mine is interwoven with.

— Mackenzie Firek, College of Pharmacy Student

Day 3 in Honduras

One thing I keep trying to remind myself is “Hey. You’re here. In Honduras. Don’t miss it.” I think it can be so easy to wake up, go to these places, and forget that you’re in the middle of it — forgot why you gave up the resources, time, and more to travel across the world and help people you don’t even know. However, with each passing moment, I believe it’s becoming more apparent of why. And that we’re here. And that it matters.

Trisha McHugh and Emerald Lupari

There was so much that we could have been missed today, if we hadn’t been looking. We started the day off by grabbing the perfect coffee on the road to the clinic. Truly, it cannot be expressed the perfection of this particular type of caffeine. Honduran coffee really puts the rest of the world’s coffee to shame.

From the God-sent coffee, the group split in half, and went to two various clinics in the area. The clinic I ended up in was a government-run clinic that needed extra hands, as it was the weekend, and they only had one provider. We prepared a triage center, an add on to their current pharmacy, and 3 different clinic rooms. From there, we immediately started seeing patients from the community. There were men and women off all ages from the area and we treated all that came through our doors. Every single smile, hug, and “gracias” only reaffirmed that what we were doing mattered.

We provided fluids for someone in severe dehydration. Medication was given to families who were struggling with infections. Prayer was spoken over parents dealing with loss of loved ones. Every single moment worthy of our full time and devotion.

The team God assembled here in Honduras could not have been more anointed, with every single man and woman contributing valuable skills and information to the clinic. We would not be where we are today without the absolute crucial help of every single person here. It is our hope and desire that we continue to fix our eyes on Christ and reveal to our patients here, His love with the services we can provide. We are striving to give grace and compassion to those that we serve, all the while we do the same for each other. We are in here in Honduras to serve and expand the Kingdom — and we aren’t going to miss it.

Trisha McHugh – Belmont College of Pharmacy Student

Days 1-2 in Honduras

The first day in Honduras was a full one. Yesterday we landed in Tegucigalpa and met up with our host partners from Jovenes. Ronald, the one who runs the boys home, met up with us, loaded up the luggage, and we were on our way to El Zamorano. This group is a unique one, with 11-12 Pharmacy students from both Belmont and Lipscomb Universities.

The 45-minute drive is a beautiful, winding, journey down into the valley of El Zamorano. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, Jovenes en Camino (or “Children on the Way”) is home and school to over 50 young boys of all ages. The campus includes three residence buildings, dining hall, carpentry shop, a store, farm, offices, guest house, space for recreation, a tutoring center and a clinic that is open to the El Zamorano community.

Once settled at our hotel, we enjoyed an authentic Honduran dinner and then headed off to bed.

The next morning started with a bang as the whole group began preparing for the first day of the clinic at Jovenes. The students, supervised by the Pharmacy faculty, saw over 100 people from the community and gave them health consultation along with medication for various issues they were dealing with. Additionally, our group packed 40+ food bags that will provide basic food supplies for entire families for 2 weeks during the holidays.

Later, we shared dinner with the Jovenes community and then had spirited games of kickball and futbol (spoiler – we lost).

With all the new sights and sounds, the group is just getting acclimated and settling in. We’re looking forward to a week of hard work and new friendships as we serve and receive from the community of Jovenes and from El Zamorano. In the coming days, you’ll hear more from the students on the trip as well, so keep following along for more updates!

Larkin Briley – Trip Leader