Student missionaries spend summer abroad

by Al Greenwood

Daily Cougar Senior Staff

Three students from the University of Houston have left for Estonia, Taiwan and South Padre Island as missionaries.

Meg Albertson, a junior architecture major, left for Estonia May 23 and will return Aug. 27.

Estonia is a small European country slightly larger than Maryland and located directly south of Finland. It shares the same border with Russia, Lithuania and Latvia.

From World War I to World War II, Estonia was an independent country. The former Soviet Union took Estonia and Poland during World War II. Estonia won independence in 1991.

"Under communism, they couldn't have church, so all the churches were either converted for communist purposes or destroyed," Albertson said. Estonia ended these policies after independence, she said.

"We're taking a seminar at Tartu," Albertson said. "We're going to learn about the history. It's basically an intro course to Estonia."

Albertson will camp with college-age students. "There are no facilities," she said. "They just go with tents and sleeping bags. They don't take any showers. Even if you're in the city, you take a shower once a week.

"They're not nearly as rich as the United States," Albertson said. "We're told to take only five shirts because they go with less than that."

Unlike Albertson, Audin Delacruz went to Taiwan for just two weeks. "It's my fifth (missionary)," said Delacruz, a junior pre-physical therapy major. "I've been to Israel, Sweden, England, Korea and the Philippines.

"I'll be heading Bible studies at a camp," Delacruz said before his trip. The people at the camp will be high school and college students, he said.

"They have a tendency to listen to people from other countries," Delacruz said. "They feel you came all the way from another country just to talk about Jesus Christ."

Delacruz said he plans to use his physical therapy degree for medical missions. "I really want to work with students," he said.

Stan Bell left for his first missionary to South Padre Island June 1 and will be staying until the middle of August. "I'll be giving (out) free water and sunscreen and doing free services," said Bell, a junior music education major.

Bell will also do some evangelism on the beach. "Mostly, they'll be coming to me," he said. "It's not meant to condemn. God is not out there throwing rocks.

"I'll also be doing discipleship training," he added. Bell and other people will help widows and feed the hungry.

"After I started (missions), I received comfort that they prayed for me. I received more than I gave," Bell said.

The University of Houston has offered missionary services since the early `40s, said Craig Butler, director of the Student Baptist Association. "We've had as many as 10 to 15 from Houston," he said.

"They won't have an income during the summer," said Butler, "but their needs are taken care of.

"(Missionaries are) just looking for ways to meet people's needs," he said. "They'll be expected to lead Bible studies. Some will be doing manual labor."

Missionaries do these services for free all over the world, Butler said. "We've even had missionaries go to Cuba.

"Each of them has a pastor or a missionary as a supervisor. It's someone who's had experience with the locals," Butler said.

The supervisors will also coordinate and publicize the missionaries' activities, he said.

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