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January 31, 2013

DWU crosses equator to help those in need
Peru mission trip set for spring, fundraising underway

MITCHELL — Below the equator, in a Third World city where the vast majority of residents have never heard of South Dakota, Dakota Wesleyan University has been touching lives for nearly 12 years.

DWU will send another two groups with a total of 49 students and staff to Chincha, Peru, this May to continue mission work begun in 2002. Chincha is a city just off the coast of Peru with ancestry dating back before the Incan Empire. This will be DWU’s eighth trip in 12 years, working with volunteers from the United Methodist Church in and around Chincha.

By the end of May, the university will have sent more than 150 different people – some have made the trip several times – to this tiny part of the world, building a community center that provides education, daycare, meal programs and religious instruction to children in the area, as well as a clinic and soon, a church.

In the past, DWU has also raised enough funds to build a water delivery system on rooftops, and helped with children’s ministries. This year, the two groups will work to build a church in Satellite City outside of Chincha, continue unfinished projects, and provide a volleyball and soccer camp for local children.

Each participant must provide or fundraise $2,500 to carry on this mission of service. As part of this effort, students and staff have been traveling to South Dakota and North Dakota churches – most of which have a direct connection with one of the participating students – and providing worship services. The results have been humbling.

“It’s amazing to me how generous small-town churches and communities have been over the years. It’s humbling and it reinforces our belief that what we’re doing in our mission work is truly needed and supported,” said Brandon Vetter, campus pastor. “We could not go to Peru without this support and these people – many of whom are strangers to us – who welcome us, pray for us, support us and even thank us. Each week, the students are reminded again why they work so hard in order to do mission work.”

This weekend DWU students will travel to North Dakota for what is fondly referred to as the “Bismarck Blitz,” when students will attend and/or lead worship services in six Bismarck churches, staying with alumni while on the trip.

“It’s one of our most-successful fundraising weekends because we visit so many churches and because of their size,” Vetter said. “It’s also one of our favorite bonding weekends – we go up early, stay with alumni and friends, and usually do one activity together like curling or wallyball.”

Ana Morel, originally of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, will be both groups’ translator, and Valerie Hummel, Utica, will stay for both trips so that Morel is not alone between groups.

Morel has been on four other mission trips with DWU.

“It’s a time when you just let God take control, you have no other option,” Morel said about mission work. “You see Him work in ways you wouldn’t think possible. You see Him working in the people you are trying to help. You see your teammates grow bolder, fighting for a cause, growing spiritually. There is a lot of love on a mission trip. It’s being part of something that is bigger than yourself, and I can’t promise you will come back satisfied, in fact I can promise you will not, but the memories will stay in your heart forever and you will want to do it again.”

Staff members for the first trip will be Vetter and his wife, Vicky, and staff members for trip two are DWU assistant campus pastor Brian Anderberg and his wife, Tonya, Mari Olson from university relations, and Leah Rado, the sports information director, and also head wrestling coach Matt Sedivy, who has been on the Peru mission trip twice before, once as a student and once as a staff member.

“What I got most out of my experiences in Peru is a better sense of what it means to be a Christian,” Sedivy said. “I went to church, youth group, Sunday school, and all of that as a child growing up; however, this was never done by my choice. To be completely blunt, I went to church because my mom said I was going. That didn’t make me a Christian.”

He said that he’s always approached life, work and coaching as “all or nothing” but never viewed Christianity that way.

“However, my first trip to Peru was the first time I made a conscious decision to set time aside to grow as a Christian and help other people,” he added. “I can’t speak to the impact I was able to make for the people of Peru on the first trip I went on, but I know that the trip made the most significant impact on my spirituality that I’ve had to date.  For the first time in my life, I felt that I was doing something I was really supposed to do.  The rewards for a trip like that are unmatched by any success you can have otherwise.”


In addition to the mission trip, five students will also take part in a Spanish immersion school experience, sponsored by DWU alumnus and board member, John Grinager. The students will fly down with group one, take part in a two-week immersion program speaking only Spanish and staying with Spanish-speaking host families so they might return fully fluent and accustomed to the culture. The following students have been chosen for the program: Heather Banister, Grand Junction, Colo.; Kayla Mielitz, Big Stone City; Mackenzie Stevens, Polk, Neb.; Kelli Swenson, Chamberlain; and Tara Van Hofwegen, Humboldt.

Grinager, Mendota Heights, Minn., is a 1975 graduate of DWU with majors in history and Spanish. He studied theology at Boston University School of Theology and earned a master’s degree in planning and economic development from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota. Since 1996, he has been the president/owner of Approve-IT Inc., an international regulatory compliance consulting company for telecom/radio products.

In addition to church fundraising, the college has set up an online site for friends and family to donate at www.dwu.edu/peru.

Team one also consists of: Chelsea Boddicker, Mitchell; Matt Britt, Rapid City; Breanna Clark, Loveland, Colo.; Erin Deibele, Sheridan, Wyo.; Joe Ford, Vermillion; Coleen Hannum, Bakersfield, Calif.; Christian Hildebrandt, Faribault, Minn.; Alex Kuehler, Sturgis; Ross Leonhardt, Sioux Falls; Gabrielle McKinley, Midland; Natalie Munger, Kimball; Taylor Piper, Mitchell; Kasha Roberts, Rapid City; Sam Sandau, Tripp; Tyler Sarringer, Pierre; Jedd Schlicht, Woonsocket; Nicole Schroeder, Yankton; Kayla Summerville, Platte; Carrie Swanson, Spearfish; Jasmin Vant, Canton; and Katherine Varnado, Box Elder.

In addition to the five Spanish immersion students, team two will be comprised of the following students: Jesse Bennet, Sioux Falls; Kristen Binger, Tulare; Denet Christopher, Sioux Falls; Maranda Ehrenfried, Pierre; Sam Fluck, Becker, Minn.; Kyle Gerlach, Stickney; Liz Humiston, Edgemont; Leah Miiller, Corsica; Lacey Reimnitz, Corsica; Josh Thompson, Lead; Tyler Volesky, Mitchell; Jessalyn Wienk, DeSmet; Alexis Wilde, Gillette, Wyo.; and Lynzie Wobig, Canova.


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Last updated: 1/31/13