What SPRINT’s all about

Hello, friends!

For just a few hours tomorrow afternoon we’ll have only two SPRINT students outside the United States, marking today as a mid-point in SPRINT’s summer.  (For a full list of this summer’s trips, visit the SPRINT webpage).


I know you’re primarily interested in reports from teams’ trips, so I’ll keep this post brief.  Quickly, though, I wanted to offer some background information on the SPRINT program and our goals for all of this international travel, learning and service you’ll read about on these pages.


University-sponsored short-term missions at Seattle Pacific University date back to the early 1960s; participants in Operation Outreach, later renamed Seattle Pacific Reachout INTernational, have volunteered in countries around the world for many years.  Serving in teams alongside in-country local leadership, the objective of SPRINT trips has always been to provide needed help, a witness to the Gospel and important learning opportunities for college students.


Today SPRINT is advised and supported by SPU’s John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development. Perkins Center staff (that’s me) and student leaders partner to recruit, train and send the SPRINT teams you’re reading about this summer.


It’s important for us to connect students with effective, sustainable, community-developing work that promotes long-term transformation rather than the negative, dependency-creating outcomes sometimes associated with short-term missions.  To that end, our pre-trip training and host-partner selection focus on a set of values outlined by the Christian Community Development Association, emphasizing local leadership development, empowerment and reconciliation that bridges both social and spiritual gaps. Our hope is that students will learn from effective community engagement models and apply these lessons to their future work, wherever God leads them.


Another key aspect of the SPRINT process is our emphasis on post-trip reflection and application.  Neat experiences, great photos and fun stories about new foods do not equal life transformation.  However, when students are intentional in reflecting on their experiences, learning take-aways and challenges of the trip they’re more likely to discover God at work throughout the trip experience and beyond.


To encourage the reflection process we’ll send each student a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Service as he or she returns home.  The journal highlights the importance of incorporating service and mission experiences into one’s life through reflection and application.  You might find this sample article interesting:  In “Staying for Tea” Aaron Ausland reflects on the importance of long-term commitment and listening to community in order to find one’s place of effectiveness as an outsider coming in.


Thanks again for your support of students as they participate in SPRINT this summer.  If you’d like more information on the program, ways to give or ways to be involved, please contact me at (206) 281-2932 or owen@spu.edu.


Owen Sallee

SPRINT Advisor

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A note from Hai

I received this email from Hai, director of Fisher’s SuperKids English Center. It’s obvious the team had a great impact on the program, students and staff!

They’re in the air between Taipei and Seattle – we’ll see them soon!


Hello Owen,

I have to say that the team this year is the best among all the teams we’ve hosted. All of them maintained such a positive attitude and gentle, loving spirit the whole time they are here. They left Danang with much tear and caused much tear at FSEC as well. As I’m writing, they should be resting and waiting for the connecting flight to Taipei within the next 3 hours.

We had a great camp with 100 students. The girls helped at the Character Building and Craft stations and had lots of fun with the kids. Lauren even wrote a song for us! 🙂

I’m hoping to visit you, SPU and them next summer and will certainly keep you posted.

Thank you for sending the them to us and I hope to keep hosting more teams in the future.





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Home soon

Hello, friends!

After a month in Vietnam the team will return to the States on Wednesday. As you prepare to receive them, here are some things I hope you’ll think about to help the team make the most of this trip.

For those of you meeting students at the airport, here’s flight information:

The whole group arrives at SeaTac Airport July 18, 7:05 pm on EVA Air #26.

As the group returns, they’ll continue to think through this experience and its implications for their lives. It’s likely that this mental processing will involve at least some of these elements:

· Relief upon returning to familiar surroundings,

· Frustration with aspects of home culture that appear less desirable than the cultural values experienced during the SPRINT experience,

· Sadness and joy over relationships and memories developed during the trip,

· And hopefully, Resolve to incorporate the learning from this trip into daily life as life moves on.

It’s our hope that SPRINT participants will return to “life as usual” with expanded worldviews and a clearer sense of God’s work in their lives. The learning process continues after the trip experience; students will participate in a debriefing gathering in October, and will be encouraged to continue meeting with their SPRINT team to share the story of their host’s work and encourage future generations of SPRINT participants to serve.

I encourage you to give your student time to catch up on sleep, then set aside an extended period of time to share pictures and stories. Don’t expect completely-formed opinions immediately; the reflection process takes time. We remind returning SPRINTers that not everyone will have time to hear the whole story, but that they should find a few people with whom to share the longer, more in-depth account.

I’ve mailed team members some discussion questions and a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship (www.kristafoundation.org), to help them think through their experience as they move forward. If you’ve got time, I’d encourage you to talk though some of these materials with your student.

Thanks for your support of students on this team! Please let me know if you have questions.


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Finishing Up in Danang

We are starting to pack up.  We have just less than 48 hours left here.  We will be leaving Danang Wednesday morning.  Our flight leaves 10:30am Danang time, so that is about 8:30pm Tuesday night in Washington.  We will get back Wednesday night after 7pm Washington time.  Watch for at least one more update in the next two days.  In the meantime, I would love to ask for prayer that there would be perfect closure to our time here in Vietnam.  I personally am feeling that there are loose ends to tie up, and I would appreciate your prayer for me and the other two girls.  Pray also for God to be preparing us to return home– both our hearts and the hearts of our family and friends that will be helping us transition  back into our lives in The States.


Thank you very much,

Lauren Marie

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Teachers Learn Too

Hey everyone!  Sorry for the lack of updates on this end.

Today we woke up at the ugly hour of 4:45 AM, but got to the beach by 5 to watch the sunrise.  I posted a picture earlier today.  It was gorgeous and it was worth the little sleep, however, I don’t think we can afford to do that again.

Tomorrow we are teaching a class of high schoolers for 3 hours.  These are the oldest kids we will have taught, and it will be for the longest time, so it might be a challenge to fill up the time, but we are teaching them the most important subject… food!  I am quite passionate about eating, so it will be fun, but I will be very hungry by the end of it.

Now for the meat of the update.  I came into this trip hoping for two things.  I wanted to experience God in a unique way, and even more I wanted to have a lasting/eternal impact on the city of Danang.

The first day in Vietnam, I found out that the church our host goes to was started by missionaries from the CMA (Christian and Missionary Alliance), the same denomination I am a part of at home.  I had researched the CMA’s current involvement in Vietnam, and didn’t find any missionaries in the country.  When I heard this about the church here, I got chills, and knew it was confirmation from God that I was where he wanted me to be.  Although missionaries from the CMA are not in the city of Danang currently, their influence is still here 101 years later.  This excites me, and makes me feel a bit more at home in the city.

I have a lot more to say, and don’t think I exactly explained my point of writing, but I am in need of some serious shut-eye.  If you’ll excuse me, I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank you much,

Lauren Marie


P.S.  I would like to request prayer for Jane, Elissa, and me as we finish up our time here in Vietnam.  We are all at different places in life right now, but I know we all are praying that God will allow a smooth transition into life back in the states.  I have had many experiences where I go on a retreat or a missions trip and come back “on fire for God”, but the passion soon dies out and I settle back into my life as it was before I left.  I am determined that this time will not end like that, and I am trying to prepare myself for coming home.  However, I have already seen that as hard as I try and want it to happen, my hopes will not make it happen, only God can. Thank you again, I treasure your prayers.

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Sunrise in Vietnam

Sunrise in Vietnam

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Update From Elissa

Hey everybody!

Today was the second “Unforgettable Summer Day” with Fisher’s Superkids. We were able to teach some English, songs such as “Lean On Me”, golf, and baseball. The day was split into two sessions with a two hour break in between for students to go home, eat lunch, take a nap, and change for the park if needed. We ended up only having six students return for the afternoon session, but it was a good chance to extra time with the ones that did come back. It was really fun until the sky turned dark and it began to rain. At this point, we ended up piling six children, five adults, and all of our supplies for the day into one taxi! We came back to Fisher’s Superkids for the rest of the time for the camp, and all of the kids are playing on the computers… including your’s truly and the other two members of my team 😉 I am simultaneously writing this post and playing an English game against one of the little boys from today. He is even showing me all of the answers before I get a chance to read the question! I wonder who will win 🙂 

Now for an update on a more personal matter. I came into this trip saying that I didn’t have any expectations because I knew God would do something completely different than what I was expecting. I had been feeling discouraged the last couple of days because I couldn’t see how God was working on this trip. However, yesterday He showed me that I did come into this trip with expectations. I was expecting to leave with a perfect relationship with God and all of the answers to what I will do with my life after graduating next year. I had never consciously admitted those expectations, but was still waiting for them to happen. In the end, I was right… God did do something completely different than I was expecting! He is revealing things that I need to change in order to better reflect Him to those around me.

We have finally had the chance to start writing encouragement letters to the people we have been working with, which has also been encouraging to me!

Yesterday was the half way point in our trip, so I am going to ask that you would all pray for our continued safety and good health, as well as getting plenty of rest!

With love,


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Happy 4th of July

We celebrated the 4th of July in Vietnam with a delicious cake and watched last year’s Seattle fireworks on youtube!

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A Picture of Yours Truly

Our Tuesday and Friday Class with their fruit coloring pages!


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Detailed Update With Pictures!

As I’m sure we have mentioned, we have been really busy with our three night classes at Fisher’s Superkids English Center and many other teaching opportunities with kids here in Vietnam. Our count of children we have met has now gone up to about 277. I have now finished uploading all of my pictures so far onto my Facebook, so have also decided to share some of those with all of our lovely followers of this blog!

While teaching the seven different classes at Than Dong Viet Kindergarten, we have been able to teach children emotions and end each class with the song “I Love You”. Although it is a Barney song, it is a nice reminder to all of the children that they are loved, and they seem to enjoy singing it with motions! Here is a picture of our first class at the kindergarten, the one that loved to dog-pile us with hugs! We are teaching here every Tuesday and Wednesday.

ImageWe have also helped out with some mini camps and the first  “Unforgettable Summer Day” of the two we will be leading while here. During this time we teach games, songs, baseball, English, snag golf, and details about the United States while also learning about Vietnam. We start the first half of the day in the school, then have a break before meeting at the park for outdoor games. Image


This past Sunday, we visited Hai’s church. The children performed their VBS songs, which we were constantly told was not a normal thing. Apparently, in the Vietnamese CMA church, people are kicked out for being too excentric. In other words, they are not allowed to clap or raise their hands into the air during the worship service. This is one thing we all noticed that is definitely a cultural difference. It was really interesting because even though the entire service was in Vietnamese, we were able to recognize and sing a lot of the hymns in English. They even ended the service by singing “The Doxology”!



We also get the opportunity to visit and teach at an orphanage twice a week. It is great playing with all of the kids aged 4 – 18 and teaching them fun games and songs. Two of the girls are actually part of the ACCESS class at Fisher’s Superkids, which is a program that sponsors students to learn English. They made sure to come hug us and say hello when they saw us at the English center, which just made our love for them grow even more. It is encouraging to see that they care for us as much as we care for them and that they remember us even in a different setting.


Our actual classes at Fisher’s Superkids are very interesting. They are ages 4-6, so it can be very difficult trying to communicate to teach new information. The first few classes were very trying to say the least, but we are definitely learning new activities that keep the kids interested and learning. We have already taught our classes how to say hello and goodbye, as well as the words for different emotions. Now, we are moving on to teaching the colors. One thing that has been really fun about our classes and some of the other activities is that we get to make up English names for all of the students! We constantly joke about how we will be good at naming our own kids in the future 😉 Since we are always busy teaching during our classes, we don’t have any pictures of our students, so instead I am including a picture of our classroom at the newly opened F2 buidling. This is the second of the two Fisher’s Superkids Centers, where each room has a different theme. This is the Safari Room!


Just for fun I am including a picture of the Beach Room at F2. The floor is actually covered in sand!


Through all of these adventures, we have also had time to be shown around Vietnam by the locals! Hai took us to Monkey Mountain to see a famous tree that is believed to be over 1,000 years old.


On the way, we even stopped and saw a few amazing sites (including the picture Lauren took that is currently at the top of this blog). The following picture is of what is called basket boats. They stay on shore so that people can take them out to their boats that are anchored in the water. I asked if there is any problem with theft of boats, but the reply was that there is not any theft because the people look out for each other.


Through all of this and more, we have been learning about the Vietnamese culture and exploring possibilities for our future. We have been told that all of our majors would qualify us to be full time teachers at Fisher’s Superkids if we decided to come back in the future (seeing that Jane just graduated with a Linguistics major, and Lauren and I are both Elementary Ed majors). God is definitely opening our hearts and showing us that we have a lot to learn about Him, ourselves, people, and life in general. Please pray for more opportunities to share our faith with our friends here in Vietnam, as well as our individual relationships with God as we strive to grow nearer to Him.

With love,


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