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Maloney makes dream trip to Africa

ON WISCONSIN <b>Kelsey Maloney and some young friends on her mission trip.</b>
Kelsey Maloney and some young friends on her mission trip.

Aug. 4, 2010


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MADISON, Wis. - Ever since she was little, Kelsey Maloney has wanted to go to Africa on a mission trip. This past summer, the middle blocker on the Wisconsin volleyball team got to do just that when she traveled to Guinea Bissau through Campus Crusade for Christ.

Maloney sat down with UWBadgers.com to talk about her trip and to share some of her photos.

Where did you go and for how long? Who else was with you?

From May 29 through June 13, I went to Guinea Bissau, which is a small country located on the west coast of Africa. I was part of a team of 10 through the JESUS Film Ministries, which is a branch Campus Crusade for Christ.

Why did you want to do this trip and how did you learn about the project?

Since I was little I’ve always wanted to go to Africa and do a mission trip. Through Campus Crusade, that I’m involved with at the UW, thousands of college students from all over the country participate in mission trips called Summer Projects. They can last one week to 12 weeks and are in over 150 countries around the world.

On the extensive application, I had to list my top five choices, so I chose all the ones that were in Africa and during the short month I had free. There were exactly five that fit the criteria. Every week for the next four weeks, I received an email saying that the dates of the other trips switched – one to July, another to August, another was full and my first choice Ghana, where I would be with a bunch of friends, combined into a five-week project. All that was left was Call of the Cashew Coast to Guinea Bissau and I was more excited than ever, seeing how God hand picked this trip for me.

What were the organizations goals of the trip?

The goals of our trip were to bring the gospel to the remote areas of the country and help lay the foundation for Guinea Bissau to become one of Africa’s largest sending nations for missions. We accomplished this by showing the JESUS Film, which is a movie about Jesus’ life taken right from the Bible and has been translated into thousands of languages around the world. We showed the film five different times, each time in a different village and each time in a different language!

The first week we were there, we held a conference for pastors and leaders of the churches all around the country in how to disciple new believers and train them on being filled with the Holy Spirit. From the first day to the last, we went from 50 pastors and leaders to 143. By the end of the week, we were hearing the pastors talk about how they are implementing the programs we taught in their churches.

We showed the film once the first week; then the second week we showed the film four nights in a row traveling to each village – Bissum, Susana, Cacheu and Mansoa. These four showings were the premieres for that language, which meant it was the first time most of these people had ever heard of Jesus Christ in their own language. It was also the most premieres ever shown in a row, which was really cool to be part of ground breaking work.

It was so humbling to know that the people who translated the film spent 20 or 30 years translating a language that isn’t written and we were the ones who got to show it. In the end, we showed the film to more than 1,600 people and over 400 people accepted Christ as their Savior.

What was your favorite part of the trip? Least favorite? Most memorable? Most surprising?

My favorite part of the trip was the people. The nationals we spent the two weeks with became our family and the kids everywhere were so adorable. I have never met people so joyful in my life – we broke out into a song and danced at least every hour.

My least favorite part was not having running water to shower!

The most memorable was getting to share my testimony in front of 850 people in the village of Susana who didn’t even speak my language (we had translators.) Also, the stars were unreal; you could look up and see millions and look over and see millions that extended all the way down to the horizon.

The most surprising thing was the differences in relationships between genders. We couldn’t make extended eye contact with men, so when you talk to someone you look at their shoulder the whole time. We couldn’t initiate handshakes with men and touching (like a hug, resting an elbow on a shoulder, etc.) is only for someone you’re married to. Even how relationships work was really different – I got several engagement offers!

What things did you experience as far as conditions of living?

Let’s just say it was an entirely different experience living in Guinea Bissau, the fifth poorest country in the world. To start off, there is absolutely no electricity so everything runs off generators, which people are very stingy with and only seemed to run at night or when a World Cup game was on. There was no trash system so it was really hard to learn to throw your trash out of the window or just drop it on the ground. There is hardly any running water and our shower in the hotel only had drops coming out. We had to resort to bucket showers drawn fresh from the well.

You say you would like to do this after college. How did this prepare you or make you want to do it?

This trip really opened my eyes to the great need and gave me a focus of what to be working towards and praying for. I can’t wait to go back and right now, I am just preparing.

Would you do it again?

Do you even have to ask?:)

Fun Facts

  • We ate fish eyeballs.
  • Our mode of transportation was a toca-toca (which translates to shift-shift.) They were 12 seater vans with the seats taken out and benches lining the whole inside. We discovered the reason for shifting, they don’t limit how many people fit inside. We counted every time and our record was 28 people in one toca-toca.
  • Cashew nuts are shelled and attached to cashew fruits that smell delicious.
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