Through relationships with global partners, Baylor Missions establishes long-term commitment. We commit to sending teams to a specific location to address a specific community challenge for three to five years. We recognize that a one or two week trip has its limits, but by working with global partners who are already on the ground doing ministry full-time, and by establishing long-term commitment to their ministries, Baylor Missions can create partnerships in order to support and supplement the ministry presence already established.
For instance, Dr. Janelle Walters, trip leader for the Guatemala Nutrition team, talked about her experience working long-term with our global partner, Mission Guatemala. Walters’ teams have always focused on targeting nutritional concerns in undernourished populations of Guatemala, but what exactly that looks like has developed over the years. By committing to this partner long-term, the team Walters leads has been able to provide sustained support and develop the programs they lead over time.
Walters described the first team she led as “a work in progress.” Once they arrived in Guatemala, the work of discerning and targeting specific needs with Mission Guatemala began for the week. Mission Guatemala set up opportunities for the team to play games with children at local schools that taught the children about food and nutrition. The team was also able to help purchase and cook food for the lunch programs Mission Guatemala was supporting. This trip left Walters encouraged by their new partnership with Mission Guatemala. The second year, Walters’ nutrition team worked on board games and puppet plays to do with the children to teach them about nutrition and again got to help with preparing and serving school lunches.
It wasn’t until the third year of partnership that Mission Guatemala and the Guatemala Nutrition team discerned the need for a program that would be really impactful for the students—providing cooking classes to junior high students. “We’ve done that for four years now,” Walters said. “We develop a list of food—three items a day for three or four days—and with the kids, and with as few resources as you can imagine, we fix foods that they may not have been exposed to before, but could reproduce.” Though it took three years of working together, each year the team is now able to provide a class that impacts the long-term daily life of students by teaching them new, healthy recipes that include local and affordable ingredients. It takes time to discover how to target needs effectively—that’s why long-term commitment is so important.
Have you visited one of Baylor Missions’ Global Partners more than once? How would committing to returning for a second year impact your experience?