Bethany Cottle didn’t know why, but when she joined Trevecca’s mission trip to Salta, Argentina, she felt like it was something she was called to do.
Cottle, a junior social work major at Trevecca, along with six Trevecca students and two sponsors, partnered with Extreme Nazarene and missionaries in the city of Salta to support local community development projects as part of the Trevecca Around the Globe (TAG) program.
From May 9- 23, the Trevecca team supported newly constructed churches through outreach events, color runs, soccer tournaments, skits, telling Bible stories to kids and singing Christian songs in the plaza.
For Cottle, the community’s response to the events was a little surprising.
“Love has no borders or language barriers,” Cottle said. “Because even though they couldn’t understand us and we couldn’t understand them, we were able to show them love—show them God’s love—and we were able to receive love from them.”
Peyton Williams, a junior majoring in marketing, said the missionaries and the team carefully planned the events to build trust in the community, which had been damaged by injustice in the past. She said the locals were used to strangers expecting something from them in return. The Trevecca team worked to bridge that gap and find commonalities between cultures.
“It’s hard to build a relationship with someone you can’t communicate with verbally,” Williams said. “As we were able to congregate and fellowship together, we found interests and similarities through our actions.”
Though most of the students don’t understand Spanish, Levi Osborne, Trevecca resident director and TAG trip sponsor, said the team were able to find ways to interact and communicate with the people of Salta. The team organized activities to appeal to the local community, including serving local cuisine, discussing social issues and adapting communal activities.
“Being part of the community as a foundation is important,” Osborne said.
Throughout the trip, Osborne hopes the Trevecca students were able to learn from the way the missionaries serve God and allow their experience in Argentina to shape and change them.
“While we’re young, it’s easier to commit to something like that because we don’t have families, we don’t have jobs that we can’t get away from,” Osborne said. “Trevecca’s providing us with opportunities to go [on mission trips] which is a big part of it, too.”
Cottle couldn’t put into words exactly what she experienced, but says the whole trip had been eye-opening. She’s hoping to take part in more trips and service projects in the future.
“I experienced God in a way I never thought I would,” she said. “I just saw how he was moving in all of His different ways. I think that’s what really [made it worth it] for me.”