Mission possible

Student’s plan an alternative to starting college


Lahari Ramini, Staff Writer

It’s the end of senior year and the summer lies in front of you like one of Nebraska’s cornfields. But, just as you peak above the corn stalks, you catch a glimpse of the towering mountains of the future. There are countless paths that lead through these mountains, ranging from college to gap years to military academies. One of these paths, specifically, is meant for individuals who have the chance to travel on mission trips undertaken by various religious groups.

MN Counselor Paul Gabel has had several students make mission trips their choice.

“When the idea of mission trips comes up from students, there are generally two or three reasons. These include religious and family expectations and the desire to see the world and make a difference,” Gabel said.

Senior Amy McWilliams is on track to go on a mission trip through the World Race Christian Gap Year program. In August, while most students will be decorating their dorm rooms, McWilliams will be packing for the trip of a lifetime.

Through the World Race, she will go on a nine month trip (Sept. 2018 – May 2019) and visit Malaysia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Thailand.

“I found out about the trip from a friend who went on a shorter mission trip with me a couple summers ago. She told me about World Race,” McWilliams said. “My original plan was to go straight to college, but after talking to many different people like mentors and simply praying, I made this decision.”

The World Race Gap Year states on their website, “Taking an intentional year off from school can actually propel you into making the most of your college experience.”

After her gap year, McWilliams  plans to attend UNL the following fall.

“I am looking for direction in my life. It’s not so much going ‘to get’ anything,” McWilliams said. “Learning through experiences is the heart of it.”

Another MN student, senior Lucas Wang, plans to go on a mission trip before college as well. Lucas is part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or the Mormon Church. He will serve a two year mission for his church right out of high school.

“A big part of Mormon culture and teaching, and especially for young men, is to make the decision to serve a mission,” Wang said. “Growing up in the Church, it’s always been a goal of mine to fulfill that calling and serve a mission.”

As of right now, Wang does not know where his mission trip will take place. Despite this, the things he will do as a missionary are universal.

“As a missionary, I will be sharing my faith with whoever is willing to listen, and I will be providing community and church service to my assigned area,” Wang said.

After his trip, Wang also plans on attending a four year college, graduating, and then working towards becoming a doctor.

Mission trips are a way for students to gain clarity, while also doing something for a cause that they are passionate about. There is much to be perceived and learned through these trips.

“Ultimately, when students go out and explore the world on these trips, they are learning more. They come back with awareness. They find that it’s not just a black and white world, and they find appreciation for the things that they already have,” Gabel said.