February 28, 2008
By Jon Brown
After a long season that began in the dog days of the Texas summer, a restful Christmas break would seem made-to-order for the Baylor women's cross country runners preparing for the equally grueling indoor and outdoor track seasons.
But rather than spending their break at home with friends and family, three Lady Bears chose to give that time to those less fortunate.
Senior Lyndsy Bedell and sophomores Danielle Bradley and Nichole Jones joined head coach Todd Harbour in traveling to Galeana, Mexico, for a five-day mission trip as a part of Hands and Hearts Ministries.
The villages surrounding Galeana are 600 miles from Waco, but the two are worlds apart.
"The people we visited live very humble lives," says Harbour. "A lot of them still live in adobe huts, but they are very happy, simple people. They don't have a lot, but what they do have they are very thankful for."
The group traveled to three of the more than 260 mountain villages as part of a medical mission. While doctors led the trip, opening triage clinics in the modest villages, Harbour and his charges interacted with the families, sharing their faith with the village people.
"We had different clinics set up for the people," says Bradley. "Some were medical clinics for the adults and vacation Bible school for the kids. We helped the kids make bracelets to illustrate the Gospel."
Whether they were distributing sunglasses to the village men to wear while working in the fields or presenting framed photographs to children who had never seen their own picture, the group befriended the villagers and laid the foundation for building relationships.
"One man told us that he had been praying for eyeglasses because he could no longer see to read his Bible," says Bedell. "He was so excited when we gave him a pair of glasses. He said that it was a miracle and that his prayers had been answered."
The runners didn't completely sacrifice their training for the trip, as the mountain scenery and 5,300-foot elevation proved solid training ground for the distance crew. Early mornings in the dark and mountainous terrain did little to deter the Lady Bears from their daily workout.
"We trained in the morning when it was still dark and we couldn't see," says Bedell. "It was good for me to be training with Nichole and Danielle because they would push the pace. I had to keep up with them because the headlights of our truck were leading the way and I needed to be able to see where I was going."
"I have a new appreciation for mountains," adds Jones. "I definitely like running on flat terrain again. I came back with more of a mental toughness. Things seem a little less daunting now."
But the true purpose of the trip was the work being done, not only in the lives of the villagers, but also in the lives of the missions team.
"Before we left for the trip, I was thinking about what I could do to bless the people that we would be visiting," says Jones. "I had a lot of time to think on our drive back, and I realized that I probably benefited as much or more by being there with them. I have a different perspective of the people. I learned to praise and to be grateful for things that I take for granted."