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Student seeks personal growth through mission trips

Descending onto the tarmac in Romania, sophomore Avery Kelso and her father John Kelso arrive at the second stop of their mission trip. Due to Romania’s proximity to Ukraine and its ongoing conflict with Russia, Kelso’s group of missionaries spent their nights in Romania exercising great caution by staying inside at night and never traveling alone.

photo by Avery Kelso


Sophomore Avery Kelso dove into unknown waters by attending mission trips

in Portugal, Romania and Ireland. During the summer, Kelso learned how to use her God-given gifts to spread the Gospel to children through sports.

“I went to make connections with the people I met and to hopefully be a light to those who do not know God,” Kelso said. “I went to grow my faith, serve others and spend quality time with my Father.”

Encountering financial difficulties preceding the trip, Kelso was reminded of God’s grace through His provision. She was unsure whether or not she could attend the trip because of the high cost of travel. Her extended family provided her with all the funds necessary. She realized God supplied the finances that she needed.

“I needed to raise thousands of dollars to be able to go, and it all came within a matter of days,” Kelso said. “I think if it is meant for you to go on a trip, God will provide. The feeling in my heart was almost indescribable... It was like a fire burning in my heart. I knew it was the Holy Spirit.”

When Kelso arrived in Portugal, she began on her journey to meet the children and spread as much of the Gospel as she could. While she acknowledged a definite language barrier, Kelso found joy and fulfillment in the small gestures of the children around her.

“There was a kid in Portugal, and he told my dad he really liked baseball, so my dad gave him two gloves and a ball,” Kelso said. “He was so happy and grateful and seeing his smile

after my dad gave him the gloves was priceless.”

Kelso and her fellow missionaries gathered the children and showed them how to play American-style sports. They would play numerous games and then take a break in between to compare and make connections with the Gospel and to expose the children to Christian principals.

“First, we give a good example to them, and second, we try to be different from who they have known before,” Kelso said. “We give testimonies that encourage the kids and also tell them who Christ is.”

Through her interactions with the students, Kelso created lifelong memories and learned the importance of thankfulness.

“You cannot go on a trip like this and it not have a life changing impact on your faith,” Kelso said. “The way I see things and the way I analyze things is different now. I realize more the need in the world for Jesus and the privilege I have.”

Treasuring experiences and wisdom learned from the trip, Kelso was left with everlasting memories.

“I learned that doing things for others and serving the Lord is much more satisfying than doing things for yourself.”


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