Monterey Bay Academy Serves In India
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
On December 14, a group of missionaries from Monterey Bay Academy set out to serve God on the other side of the planet. The team of 20 MBA students, 12 adults (including faculty, parents and alumni) and a few younger siblings got on an MBA bus at four in the morning on a rainy Sunday and began their trek to India.
MBA students and faculty are no strangers to mission trips. The past three years groups from MBA have visited an orphanage in Baja, Mexico, painting walls, practicing their construction skills and sharing Jesus with total strangers. When the group was heading home from Mexico last year though, team leaders Pastor Sam Kaligithi and history teacher Tim Kubrock started to plan a trip that would require much more time, money and effort.
“This was the right time for this trip to India to happen,” Kubrock explained. “Our students at MBA are excited about mission work and they love going to Mexico, but they were hungry for a new experience. Our students wanted to help people who don’t get help that often. They really had the desire to make a difference.”
Because Pastor Sam is originally from India, it was a natural choice for the mission trip. Both men knew it would be easy to get kids excited about a chance to travel halfway across the world, but a very difficult task to get all of the planning and money necessary for this kind of undertaking.
“God really shapes these things,” Pastor Sam said. “We faced several challenges in making this mission trip a reality, not only in the early planning stages, but also right before and during the trip. I think we as a group really learned to rely on God, to trust Him and His wisdom is all circumstances.”
One of the biggest challenges for the trip from the outset was cost for each student involved. Each student was responsible for raising $2000 to cover their expenses and for some that was a big challenge. Some students’ families were able to help; others went to their church families.
“I knew from the second this mission trip was announced I wanted to go,” Rochelle Gaurino, a sophomore from Madera, CA, explained. “But I also knew the money was going to be a big issue. So I went to my church and family and asked them to help me. I was really surprised at how many people helped me out. It wasn’t all these huge donations either, more like $10 here and $20 there. It felt really good to know I had that kind of support.”
Another challenge the group had was the main project of the mission trip. The original plan for MBA’s team was to build a much-needed church in the southeastern Indian state of Orissa. However, just two months before the trip, new plans had to be made due to Hindu/Christian clashes in the area. So the trip was refocused, this time on an orphanage run by Pastor Sam’s mother, Lily, near the town of Narsapur, also in southeastern India.
After four flights, a 20 hour train ride and crossing the international dateline, the group was tired but ready to work. MBA’s team had three areas of service they came to provide. Several of the adults from the group are medical professionals, so each morning they met with dozens of locals healing everything from toothaches to backaches. The students spent most of their time working at the orphanage, which is home to 60 children ranging from infants to teenagers. In the evenings, the group would lead out in revival meetings, with music and drama from MBA’s students and messages delivered by Pastor Sam.
“It was a real blessing to have those meetings,” Pastor Sam said. “We were expecting about 500 people, but each night we had 800 to 1000 people show up. At the close of our meetings eight people decided to become baptized.”
While the meetings made an impact on the local community, the biggest impact on the students involved came from the children they had come to serve.
“As soon as we got there they kids got attached to us,” Andrew Millard, a senior from Sonora, CA said. “We went there to help them, but they were always trying to help us. It’s amazing how generous and humble these kids are. Even though they have such a tough life, they have a great attitude. They really taught us a lot.”
After spending Christmas with their new friends and a long trip to see the Taj Mahal in northern India, the group began to make their way back home. As they look back on the trip now, they understand that it wasn’t a typical mission trip.
“This mission trip was not based on building a church,” Mona Bascoy, a senior from Rancho Palos Verdes, CA explained. “It was based on spiritual work. The people we helped were touched by our ministry. Some of it was singing and talking and some of it was just connecting with people and sharing God’s love in very tangible ways.”
For many of the students the trip started out as a unique experience to see the world and ended up becoming something much more.
“Sometimes when you’re at school you have no idea of the world around you,” Blake Szutz, a senior from Fairmont, MN said. “But when you go on a trip like this, it gives you a better world view. It takes you out of your little box and puts things in perspective.”
As far as Pastor Sam is concerned, MBA is going to keep going on mission trips not just for the service they provide to those in need, but also for the difference they make on MBA’s campus.
“I have seen such a positive impact on our campus from the students who have participated in these trips,” Pastor Sam said. “Mission trips are an amazing thing because people go to share what they have and serve others and give what they can, but they don’t expect to get anything in return. They always do though. These trips are such a great way to grow spiritually and pack a rich experience in a short period of time. They are educational both culturally and spiritually and can be life changing.”