Archive for the ‘Go Encounter’ Category

Students Return from Go Encounter France

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Grace College students on Go Encounter France (L to R): Blythe Foote, Nicole Kindig, Courtney Evans, Rachel Gregory, Stephanie Porter, Deborah Jackson, Chantel Shetler and Abby Phinney.

A week after spring semester concluded, nine Grace College students and Professor Jacqueline Schram, dean of Grace Core and Global Initiatives, left the United States for Paris, France. According to student Abby Phinney, the team’s 10-day trip was riddled with moments of awe. “It’s one thing to see the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre in a book; it’s an entirely different experience to stand inches from them and look up,” Phinney explained. “History becomes tangible in aged countries like France. Every cobblestone, cafe and curving alleyway tells a story.”

The students’ first four days were spent in the capital city; from there, they took a train to Dijon. In Dijon, the team visited Grace’s study abroad students and experienced some excellent French cuisine. A couple of days later, they wove their way through the French countryside. Among other landmarks, the team visited the oldest castle in Burgundy and the Abbey at Cluny. The trip culminated in Professor Schram’s peaceful childhood home, the Chateau de Saint Albain.

“This experience was unlike any other,” commented Phinney.  “We were steeped in French culture, from cuisine to the country’s history to interaction with French people. None of us could imagine any trip being finer. We’re all so glad we chose France as our Go Encounter destination,” she concluded.

Phinney is a senior at Grace studying journalism. Post-graduation, Phinney plans to pursue a career as a public relations specialist in the Warsaw, Ind. area.

“Go Encounter France has left an indelible mark on my life,” Phinney said. “As a journalist, my writing is enriched by cultural experiences. As a Christian, I’m more aware of how big my God truly is!”

In addition to study abroad opportunities, all undergraduate programs at Grace include a mandatory cross-cultural field experience.  Many students choose to fulfill this requirement through a Go Encounter trip to a variety of destinations, which include Brazil, Fiji, France, England, Germany, Japan, Romania, South Korea, Cambodia, Uganda and Ireland.   Grace’s staff and faculty lead these seven-to-10-day trips on which students explore native cultures and serve diverse communities.

For more information about Go Encounter trips, visit here or call 574-372-5100, ext. 6133.  For questions, email

Wrapping things up.

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Well, we are all safely back home and getting into that scary thing called a “routine.” Our last day of the trip was spent in beautiful Venezia (Venice), a truly unique city built in harmony with the sea. We had a chance to learn about the history of the Venician Republic and quite a bit of free time to exercise the bits of Italian we have learned trying to navigate the city ourselves. If you want to check out  there are a few more pictures from our excursions.

As I reflect on the amazing expereinces we were blessed with in Italy, it was certainly a once in a lifetime trip. For the artists on the trip, there is a real sense of putting our feet in the same waters as the great masters who have gone before us. For the historian in each of us, it was amazing to be in a place with such a deep past. And as we look to the present, to have the chance to interact with Italian college students and the local business people we encountered has hopefully opened up our perspectives and allowed us to see God in his vast creativity.

For the real Italian experience, keep in contact with the Gracies that you know went for information regarding an art exhibit we will have on campus in the fall.

technological difficulties :(

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Hello family and friends, I thought this uploaded while we were in Venice but as my public speaking professor so wisely taught us, technology hates you. Here it is a bit late..

Today we continued our Italian adventure north into the town of Bologna and onto Lido de Jesolo, which is just outside of Venice, where we are spending the night before heading into the watery city tomorrow. In Bologna we got to visit what has been determined as the oldest university in the world. We also had lunch in Bologna and contrary to the name of the city, it had nothing to do with bologna. The meat we call bologna is not Italian, but is based on a different Italian sausage of sorts that is about as big in diameter as a dinner plate. Some of us looked for familiar food and some of us wandered the many tiny markets of Bologna searching for local treasures and fresh fruits. Nearly all of the streets have covered walking paths that keep you out of the rain, or for us the 90 plus degree heat, and out of the way of the vehicles zipping through roads smaller than some American sidewalks.

For me, this town is the one that has felt the most “Italian” with its medieval infrastructure, proud history, and local merchants of whom very few spoke English. Bologna gave us a very good example of the temperament of the old Italian city states and the way life on the Italian peninsula may have been not so many years ago before Italy became a united country.

Tomorrow we are on to Venice, the last stop on this whirlwind adventure, then back to the states and all of you lovely folks.


In Him, Natalie


Last Day at Homes of Hope and Heading Back to Momi

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Today we are sleeping in a little and packing up as we say goodbye to Homes of Hope. We all enjoyed our days here learning about their great kingdom work. We are all going to miss the moms and their children very much. We have another day of travel as we head back to the west side of the island to Momi for the night before we head to Snorkel Island and the Resort for our final two days here. Then we will fly out sunday night (saturday for you) then we will relive sunday again in LAX airport and we will all arrive sometime between late late sunday night and monday morning. This could very possibly be the last blog. This trip has been a once in a life time experience and I hope everyone enjoyed tracking with us. We are excited about a few days of relaxation and touristy stuff. I know a lot of the team is waiting patiently for American food!!!!

Mothe from Fiji!! (Goodbye from Fiji)        -Kati

Beginning of Homes of Hope

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Bula Everyone! Sorry it has taken awhile to post again. Things here just fly by and before we know it days and days have passed. This morning marks our second full day here at Homes of Hope (hoh) and we are excited for it. Here at hoh it rains A LOT!!! So, we are usually a little damp and always sweaty. Despite some adjustments that needed to be made from Momi, we are doing well. Yesterday was a lot of hard work up in the fields digging, planting, weeding and such. There were huge spiders and yucky centipeds that had us all on our toes. But it was mind over matter and we got the job done! The team is closer than ever and we are enjoying seeing the beauty that God gave this part of the world. We are in the lushest, greenest, most tropical place you can imagine. So far we have seen bats, parrots, other birds and several gross bugs already mentioned.

Some of the team is gettting tired and a little homesick so please keep the prayers going. Its by your continued prayer that we continue. Today is a bit of a rest day for the team as they are going to go to a jungle waterfall and spend the day swimming in a natural pool and investigate the jungle around us. Some of us are staying back because they need  us so please pray for good spirits on that front as well.

Tomorrow is another day of field work for the team and as always continued time with the Fijian and Indian children. The kids are a hoot and we love them to pieces.

I hope this informs you enough for now! I will write again soon. Thanks for all the support. Hope all is well in the states.

Only by his grace.



Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Sunday was spent shopping with our good friend Yvonne in Ankara. There was a place called Cheap Charlie’s where all of us found good reminders of Turkey. There was then a short, yet extremely bumpy and nerve-wracking, flight from Ankara to Izmir. We were sad to leave Ankara and the friends we made there but excited about the sightseeing and experiences to be had here. Once getting to our hotel we explored the surrounding area in the city, Kusadasi, and enjoyed seeing the spirit of the people. There had been a championship soccer game and the winning team’s fans were out in full force last night with waving flags, wearing jerseys, and honking horns well past midnight.

After a restful night’s sleep, we were ready for some sightseeing. We had the chance to visit St. John’s Basilica. It was amazing to be standing in the spot where John wrote the book of John as well as where he is entombed. The next stop was Ephesus, the city to which Paul wrote the book of Ephesians. The size of the city was impressive as were the ruins that have been preserved. There was then a visit to a traditional silk carpet making school/store. The carpets were extremely beautiful but also extremely expensive. The rest of the afternoon has been spent relaxing around the hotel, including taking advantage of the outdoor pool.

Looking forward to another day of sightseeing tomorrow! Thank you for all your prayers!

For the rest of the team,


Firenze, the city of flowers

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

    Well, in our fast paced journey across some very lovely places, we have now made our way to Florence, Firenze in Italian. Yesterday we woke up at midnight your time and got ready to travel from Rome, via Assisi, to Florence. We had a chance to stop in Assisi and visit a pottery factory. Imagine the colors you would find in a vibrant summer garden and paint them onto terracotta clay in the most intricate lace and you will have an idea of what Umbrian pottery looks like. Also in Assisi we visited three churches associated with Saint Francis, the one where he died, the one where he was buried, and the one where his dear friend Saint Clara is buried. The whole town of Assisi is built into the side of a mountain and with three different layers of fortification walls that were built as it grew, it is a lovely medieval town with a focus on the peace that Saint Francis sought to demonstrate with his life.

     After Assisi, we drove into Florence where we had dinner together and headed to Hotel Donatello, were I am sitting right now. Today we began with a walking tour of Florence, starting at the famous Duomo, the cathedral featuring a magnificent dome designed by Brunelleschi during the Renaissance. The entire outside of the cathedral is covered in geometrically inlayed white, pink, and green marble. We then walked through the town with our local guide who shared with us stories about the people of Florence. At the end of our walk we got to visit an Italian leather factory, and for our portion of the group, we had to dash off to the Uffizi where we had reservations to see what could be easily be the best collection of Renaissance master paintings. After climbing what seemed like a million stairs, we walked through the galleries and I know I spent most of that time with my mouth open in awe and my pencil trying to capture small motifs I would have never been able to see in a print of some of these fantastic paintings. Next it was on to the Accademia for some quality time with Michelangelo, or at least a collection of his works, including the David and an evening out on the town shopping and relaxing with friends.

     Tomorrow we are heading out of Florence and onto Venice, via Bologna. At this point my head is so full of lovely things I cannot quite imagine that we have more to see but when we cross those canals and enter the city built on water….. well, I will have to make room in my brain for more lovely things.


Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Wow the days are flying by but we all feel like time doesn’t exist here.  Yesterday was most of our’s best day.  We got to travel to town and buy sulus which are local wrap-around skirts.  Once we had all finished shopping we went to a rural pottery village and got a taste of a culture we couldn’t have imagined.  most of us also took a trip to the little store down the road and got to experience Fijian coke and ice cream.  As you can see all is well here and our blessings are countless.

Early tomorrow morning we head to Homes of Hope.  We are sad to leave Momi Bay but we are excited for our next experience.  Please continue to keep us in your prayers.  Thanks for taking this journey with us.  Hope to write again soon!

From the team, Kati Hock

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

We spent Friday night at two families homes for dinner.  The girls went to one family and the guys went to another family.  It truly was a blessing to spend time with them. When guests come to Turkey it is a very big deal.  They serve more food than you can imagine eating and they get really offended if you do not eat the food because the women will spend all day cooking and they consider it to be holy when guests come.  We had an amazing chicken dish and many other interesting Turkish food.  We enjoyed getting to talk with the family about the way things work in Turkey in comparison to America.  We were very thankful for Yvonne who was able to translate for us.

After eating dinner we caught an overnight bus to Cappadocia.  Not going to lie..the bus was awful!  Comfort was definitely something we weren’t going to find that night.  We arrived in Cappadocia at 6:30am and began our day.  We went on a tour and saw some of the most beautiful things we have seen since being in Turkey.  We got to climb through many different areas of lava masses.  The people back in the olden days carved away homes and churches into the rock.   We were amazed at the capabilities of the people to make these homes and churches since they didn’t have power tools like we do now.  The churches were absolutely gorgeous and each one had special artwork depicting different parts of the Christian faith.  It was truly amazing.

Exhausted, we got back on the bus to head to Ankara again.  Thankfully, the bus was much more comfortable and we were able to get some sleep.  We arrived at the hotel and were very thankful to be sleeping in a bed. We are getting ready to do devotions and then we are heading out to do some shopping.  We are getting Burger King for lunch and are quite excited to have some American food!  Tonight we will catch a flight to Izmir where we will begin the last site seeing part of our trip.  We will be seeing many places such as Ephesus and other New Testament churches.  I am excited to walk where Paul walked for sure.

Spirits are high and we are making a lot of amazing memories! Thanks for praying for us and we send our love back to the States.

Writing for the team,

In His Service,

Kim 🙂

How many forms of transportation can we sleep on?

Friday, May 20th, 2011

We had a wonderful dinner with Turkish families tonight. It was a great time to enjoy fellowship and very good food.  We are getting ready to catch an overnight bus to Cappidocia where we will spend the day site seeing.  This will be the 3rd form of transportation we have slept on (train, plane, bus).  We are loving our time here and getting to know many different people.  Today we painted at a local sports club that Yvonne Farley (a good friend) works at.  It was such a blessing to serve them in that way.

We have posted a ton more pictures so check out these two albums 🙂
Writing for the team,
Kim 🙂