Mother of Alex Flores
"I'll never forget the phone call. The familiar voice of my daughter Alex was on the other end of the line, 'So, uh, Mom, I went to this meeting today.' She began talking faster. I managed to hear 'semester abroad', 'ten countries in four months', and 'pretty cool right?'. I asked for the details and soon began to point out to her all the reasons this might not be a good idea. We went back and forth for a while with her pros vs. my cons. Finally she said, 'Look Mom, if someone had presented this opportunity to you, what would you do?'. We both knew the answer to that question, and I knew then that she would be taking the trip of a lifetime."
"I sent her off with a backpack that probably weighed as much as she did, then began my daily search of Facebook, the blogs and tweets. I was so anxious for any news! I watched with pleasure and delight, not only my daughter but the other rounders make their incredible journey. Through photos posted on the internet, I saw them studying in amazing places, serving those who needed help the most, and caring for each other. My eyes and ears became more attuned to the news and any mention of one of the places they would be visiting. These were no longer distant lands to me. My daughter was there and I felt a connection... and with each place she went I had more and more questions. What were the people like, the food, how did the stars in the sky look the night you slept on the desert floor in Jordan? Were you screaming with delight or terror in that photo of you on a camel? There were so many wonderful pictures, but the one that had the greatest impact on me was of Alex and a young boy named Stephen in Kenya. He is sitting on her lap, they are both wearing flower leis. His red shirt is ragged and torn at the cuffs, mucous drips from his nose. They are not only holding hands, but their fingers are intertwined. It is so intimate... and Alex is smiling from ear to ear. It was in that picture that I had proof that this trip had affected her in ways beyond what I had imagined. It is Concordia's goal to develop wise, honorable and cultivated citizens. The semester abroad certainly fulfilled that in my daughter and more. She also returned home as a more courageous, confident, compassionate and loving child of God. It was most definitely the trip of a lifetime."
"P.S. I am STILL trying to figure out how I can somehow become a rounder myself!"
Mother of Joanna Steinhaus
"You think you know your daughter – after all you birthed her, changed her diapers, rocked her to sleep, walked her to school, drove her to soccer practice, helped her with homework, slammed your foot on the imaginary brake pedal as she drove you, took photos of her in her prom dress, straightened her cap and gown, and helped unpack her dorm room… and then she goes and travels around the world and changes on you! The beautiful girl you kissed goodbye and waved to at the airport in August comes back an even more beautiful and spiritually mature young woman in December. Those four months of traveling, studying and ministering to others proved to be life changing and richly blessed Joanna with experiences she, and we, will never forget. Thank you for stretching and challenging her mentally, physically, and most of all, spiritually – a wonderful semester indeed!"
Mother of Catherine Standridge
"When Catherine asked me what I thought about a semester abroad in ten countries I thought, 'That's just not possible. There is no way we can afford this.' When I realized she was serious I told her that God would have to work it all out if it was His will for her to go. Well, by the way He worked things out, I could clearly see that God wanted her to go."
"Yes, it was very hard to put my oldest daughter on a plane knowing that I wouldn't see her for four months and I wasn't even sure if I would be able to Skype or email. However, what I did know was that she was in God's will and there is no better or safer place to be. This was my comfort in those four months."
"God had already placed a desire for mission work in Catherine's heart but He used the trip to cultivate it and bring it to full bloom. This summer she returned to Kenya for seven weeks to serve the ministry and people that she grew to love in the two weeks they spent during the ATW trip."
"Catherine grew so much in that semester and has built friendships that I know will last a lifetime. She was stretched and challenged and had to depend on God and the complete strangers she had left with. She returned with a deeper relationship with God and a family of 29 people who came to mean so much to her."
"I am so grateful to the Concordia administration for trusting the Lord's leading and organizing this monumental trip. It couldn't have been easy but I can tell you, without a doubt, it was well worth it!"
Mother of Aaron Bird
"I can remember when we got our call from Aaron. He sheepishly said he was thinking about going on this trip of a lifetime. What one must understand is that Aaron had hardly traveled out of state let alone out of the country so this trip was BIG! When it was all said and done, he came back a changed person - for the better. He had a new vision of God's plan for his life and he was on FIRE! Aaron was stretched and pulled and so far out of his comfort zone over the course of four months - and he wouldn't have changed a thing about it. I am grateful that Aaron was given this opportunity to see just a small part of this big and wonderful world that God created and to serve alongside so many other like-minded students and faculty alike. What a blessing this trip was not only to Aaron, but to his entire family."