When Wendy Buller was on her way to Honduras this summer, she wasn't quite sure what to expect. The elementary education major had been on a few mission trips before, so she knew there would be hard work involved. But she'd never worked at an orphanage in Honduras before.
Buller first heard about the trip at Multnomah's 2015 annual Global Missions Conference. Hope Teams International, a nonprofit that works with orphans and street children in developing nations, was offering the trip as a raffle prize. "I think God put it on my heart to apply," she says. "I thought, 'Why not?'"
When Hope Teams announced that Buller had been selected for the trip, it was confirmation that she'd done the right thing. Buller and her team left for the 10-day trip in June. As soon as she arrived in Honduras, Buller was taken aback by the poverty she saw all around her. "It felt like walking into national geographic photo," she says.
Her team drove an hour outside the city to the orphanage. It was in the jungle, surrounded by a brick wall and fence; Buller guessed it was about the size of Multnomah's campus. The enclosed area included a school, play areas and dormitories for the 40 children who live there.
During the morning and early afternoon the volunteers painted the orphanage and worked on constructing a new school building. Once school ended later in the afternoon, the children flooded outside to spend times with their new friends.
"One of my favorite things about the trip was playing with the kids after they got out of school," says Buller. "The language barrier was frustrating for me, but they didn’t seem to care that we didn’t know Spanish; they still wanted to play."
And the more Buller played, the more she got to know the brave spirits behind each smiling face. "You wouldn’t have believed where theses kids had come from," she says. "When they shared their testimonies, it was shocking." Some had been abandoned by their parents. Others had been abused over and over. Some had families who simply couldn't taken of them, so they sent them away. Others had lost their parents to death or disease.
"Once kids have someone to love on them, they will shine," says Buller. "These kids grew up learning how to steal, but now they learn to hug and show their true gifts. All of them are very talented. It was amazing to see God working there with them."
When it was time to leave in July, Buller felt like a different person. She thinks about the orphanage often, and she even began sponsoring a young boy she befriended there.
"I love those kids so much!" she says. "I made a lot of good relationships with them. This trip made me want to do even more mission trips with kids. I love that I was able to see God working in another place across the world."
Buller says she wants to work with kids full-time one day, perhaps as a teacher. But for now, the junior is preparing for her career by taking advantage of MU's rigorous courses and supportive professors. "I love the classes here; they make me want to work harder," she says. "And the professors have a way of inspiring you to keep learning more outside of class."
But something very close to her heart is the university mission statement. "I love that it’s about equipping us to be missionaries wherever we are," she says. "MU wants its students to go into the world and be like Christ. Because of Multnomah, I feel prepared for a job — and I feel prepared to stand up for my faith."