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Cross-country team members race to serve around the world

February 23, 2016

Inspired by NNU cross-country coaches Jake and Jenny Perry, seven current student-athletes—senior Rebecca Hook, junior Emily Merioles, senior Jadyn Gourley, sophomore Josephine Lonai, junior Amy Wheeler, sophomore Isaac Mitchell and junior David Waterman—along with alumna Ashley Puga (’09), traveled to Kenya over Christmas break to volunteer with missionaries from One 5 Ministries and Wordsower International. The group of 10 Crusaders shared God’s word and led running camps for more than 400 orphans and children living on the street.

“We fell in love with the people of Kenya and the work being done there, and extended an offer to our cross country athletes to join us on our next adventure,” said Jake Perry, who, with his wife Jenny, has now made two such trips to Kenya in the past year.

Emily Merioles (Valdez, Alaska) said of the experience: “I never thought it’d be possible that a nation with such poverty could contain so much joy, contentment, love and happiness. Their faith changed my life far more than I could have ever impacted theirs.

“Even though the majority of people we worked with have very little, they are the richest people I’ve ever met. And for that, this trip was life changing,” Emily added.

The Crusaders left on December 6 and spent 25 hours traveling to Nairobi, Kenya. They continued by small plane to Eldoret to meet Godfrey Kimboi, who took the group to Iten, where NNU’s runners put on six running camps for different orphanages and one street-boy ministry.

“The team did a great job putting on the running camps; it was a blessing for me to watch them interact and show God’s love to the people there,” Perry said.

Isaac Mitchell (Sandy, Ore.), David Waterman (Caldwell, Idaho), Rebecca Hook (Boise, Idaho) and Amy Wheeler (Nampa, Idaho) spent a day helping at a medical clinic and received first-hand experience treating malaria, while the entire Crusader contingency also delivered meals to widows and grandmothers—some raising as many as six grandchildren in 12-foot by 20-foot huts. In addition, they did some painting and other tasks at a children’s home, Mercy Rescue.

“I traveled to Kenya on this mission trip with the intention of impacting those I met for Christ,” said Isaac. “I returned to the United States with the realization that I had been more impacted than anyone I had the opportunity of meeting. I came back to NNU with a fresh perspective and a changed faith.”

Along with devoting their time and love to the children of Kenya, the group also brought medical supplies for the clinics in Kitale and the Samaritan’s Purse hospital in Kapsowar as well as 150 pairs of The Shoe That Grows to distribute.


Junior biology major Amy Wheeler plays with kids in Kenya as part of a recent trip with members of the NNU cross-country team.

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