New Grad to Follow Examples Set by Dad and Mother Teresa

New Grad to Follow Examples Set by Dad and Mother Teresa

By Janlyn Thaxton

 

 

 

“The lack of materialcomforts is daunting,” says graduating Hardin-Simmons University senior KatieWhitmore as she prepares for a six-month mission trip that will take her from aNavajo reservation in Arizona to the African countries of South Africa,Mozambique, and Lesotho. In July, Whitmore, with herpolitical science degree, will set off on a six- month journey with ExperienceMission. Joining a small team of young adults, Katie will live among fourdistinct cultural groups. Projects throughout the six months will tackle realsocial, physical and spiritual needs, such as HIV/AIDS awareness, watersanitation projects, education, and agriculture. {{more}} Whitmore says herinspiration comes from two people, her dad, an Air Force chaplain, and the workof Mother Teresa. “Doing the work of Christ through humanitarian aidorganizations has been on my heart ever since my dad deployed to Afghanistan,”says Katie. “As a chaplain, he had the opportunityto work extensively off the compound with non-governmental organizations. Theway his work touched the lives of Afghan families touched me. It was time torethink my post-graduation plans,” says Katie. “Stories from missionarieshave always made tears well up in my eyes. Poverty and suffering, love andhealing, touch me deeply,” says Whitmore. “I trust that God knows my heart. Andmy heart’s desire is not simply to do something meaningful in my life but rather withit, with the entirety of it. “In the midst of my searchfor answers of what to do with my life, the words of Mother Teresa came to me,‘Like Jesus, we belong to the world, living not for ourselves but for others.’She reminded us of our calling: ‘You and I, we are the Church. Whatever you doto the least of my brethren, you do it to me. Give a glass of water, you giveit to me. Receive a little child, you receive me.’ I love this!” says Katie,”The words give clarity to my desire for a meaningful life.” Training and service will startin the Navajo Nation in the United States, where Katie says they will learn howto work together as a team. The reservation is one of the few places in theUnited States where homes still lack basic resources like water, sewer, andelectricity. In South Africa, her groupwill be part of the continuing racial reconciliation and will work to drawtogether the gap that exists between the comfortably rich and the desperatelypoor. In Lesotho, a kingdom where 40% of the population lives on the equivalentto $1.25 per day, the group will learn how they can help to create sustainablemicro-economic programs. In Mozambique, the group will work with community leaderswho continue to restore the community ravaged by a civil war. Katie and others in theImmersion Program, as it is called, will have to wrestle with questions like:How do you live your everyday life as mission? How do you uphold dignity whileserving others? How do you recognize your life calling? How do you empower andpartner with people to carry out a vision for their community? As team members gothrough this process of self-growth, they will also be a part of making apositive impact in each community and forming life-long relationships. “If I had to choose one wordto describe how I envision this trip, it would be: intense,” says Whitmore. The intensity starts with the wardrobeKatie is allowed to take; for six months, only five changes of clothing areallowed. She will also carry one trekking backpack, iodine water purificationtablets, a one-man tent, and she adds, “There is the distinct possibility of notoilets!” Katie has been baking cakes,pies, and cookies to raise money for her trip. She recently held a bake sale inHSU’s Moody Center to help with her funding, which she says carries asubstantial price tag . She is also taking orders for desserts to bedelivered through May 10, 2012. She says she specializes in Pumpkin GooeyButter Cake, baklava, Death by Chocolate Cake, Sopapilla Cheesecake, breadpudding, Middle Eastern Date Cake, and spiced apple cheesecake. Katie says the best way tocontribute financially is through a one-time or monthly donation through theExperience Mission’s website, where all donations are tax-deductible. Whitmore has sent out a letter to her friendsand family members which include these instructions for anyone wanting to help. Go to http://www.experiencemission.org/. Click DONATE and then SPONSOR A VOLUNTEER. Create a User ID and password by filling out the information at the bottom of the page. Follow the instructions for making a donation. Search for me with my User ID: KWHI1002. Katie says she will bekeeping a blog of her travels at http://www.earnestwanderings.wordpress.com/,although she says she will have limited access to the internet in parts ofAfrica. Whitmore and her oldersister Victoria , a nursing major, will both graduate on May 12, 2012,with perfect 4.0 grade point averages. Katie will leave on July 7, 2012, andreturn to the States just before Christmas. “Meaning is found inlove and service to God and others,” says Whitmore. “The greatest example oflove the world has ever known was Jesus Christ, and he came to serve God andcreation, healing both physically and spiritually. He commanded us – me! – todo the same,” says Katie.