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The Bridge returns from missions trip to Africa

During the day, the short-term missionaries played with orphans and provided for their basic needs.1 / 2
Katlin Waskosky poses together with a boy from a village that Bridge Bible Church volunteers interacted with during their recent trip to Kitale, Kenya.2 / 2

Elise Deppe, 19, had always had a fascination with Africa.

"It pulls at my heart to see those commercials (of children suffering in Africa)," she said.

Although the college student hadn't ever been out of the United States, she was determined to go with the Bridge Bible Church's missionary trip this summer to Kitale, Kenya.

"I haven't learned the language, but I am learning about their culture," said Deppe in early July. "I think it will be kind of scary to see how the people live there - emotionally scary."

Deppe, along with six other people in their late teens and early 20's from The Bridge, had heard a presentation from another missionary couple about their experiences in Africa earlier this year.

"Bud and Kim Hoffman came to the Bridge so we could share their vision and pray for them," explained Brian Williamson, lead pastor for The Bridge Bible Church. "But we had so many people who actually wanted to go that they created different fundraising opportunities."

The group staged a garage sale, ran a brat stand at Wal-Mart and hosted a spaghetti dinner. They needed to raise $2,781 per person to go on the 10-day trip to Kenya.

After months of planning, the group left on Tuesday, July 19, for the Mattaw Children's Village in Kitale.

Deppe said it was better than what she expected, although she was a bit surprised at their reception.

"At first it was kind of weird," she began. "One day we girls were in the market looking for jackets for the (orphan) kids, when we realized we were being surrounded by people talking about us. Some asked us to marry them; others asked us for money. They saw we were white and they were fascinated."

She said that the villagers in the rural area met missionaries before, so some of them knew a little English.

"Many of the kids only knew one English phrase: 'How are you?' They would stop us and say that a lot," she laughed.

The Bridge group combined with another seven-person missionary group and together they helped the house mothers at the orphanage by doing dishes and washing clothes. They also played soccer with the children and even built a three-room brick church by hand.

"They used to have church in the school building, but it was too small," she recalled. "They had made the bricks by hand already - they had no electricity. We mixed the concrete on the ground and when we needed a ladder, the villagers chopped down a tree and built one."

Between the 13 missionaries and five village workers, they were able to finish the church within seven days.

Deppe said that it was difficult to see how rustic they were living and where they got their food, but the local people did not see it as unusual at all.

"They seemed a lot happier than people are here," said Deppe. "They all seemed like their families and community are very important."

The missionary group stayed in teen housing, which had electricity and showers. However, they spent a majority of their time with the villagers and orphans helping out.

Deppe said that she was really impressed by the entire experience.

"My favorite part was getting to know the kids and how much they appreciated us being there," she said. "They wrote us notes and it really made an impact. We took pictures of us together and we will send them over."

Now that Deppe has ventured out of the country once, she said she is looking forward to the next opportunity to travel.

"I'd love to go back to Africa and help some of the orphans living on the street," she said. "I'd also love to go to India - I think that would be awesome."