Sequim High grad Gloria Nesse, 18, focused on a different route after graduation.
She combined her love of God, photography and international travel to join the first semester of Youth with a Mission’s Marriage of the Arts Discipleship Training School in Herrenhurt, Germany. (www.Ywam.org)
She left Aug. 31, 2010, and chose photography as her path above seven other options. From September to December, Nesse learned how to combine her three loves toward mission work in Bangladesh and India.
More than 100 students trained in Germany. Nesse said their arts vision is to create and show art expressing the needs of the world. The school is focused on injustice issues, such as human trafficking and prostitution.
Prior to her nearly yearlong journey, Nesse had been on a few other mission trips but desired more.
“I feel God told me to do the extraordinary rather than just the ordinary,” Nesse said.
She considered a discipleship training school at age 13 in Hawaii but laughs now, saying it was unrealistic.
From January to March, Nesse and a team of 14 went into the field sharing art with some of the most impoverished people in the world with no contacts or easy way out.
First they went to Bangladesh, where they lived in a village and led prayer walks in a mostly Muslim area where people asked for prayer. They also delivered food and rice to people in the hills.
They traveled one week later to India where they experienced a polarity of people.
Nesse said in Dimapur, India, most of the people are Christian, so the missionaries had to change their approach by holding art, dance and photography seminars in churches.
“We’d teach them whatever they wanted,” Nesse said.
The group then traveled to Assam, India, which Nesse said is one of the least-reached Christian areas in northeast India, so they focused on getting people active in the faith.
Afterward, they split into groups in Guwahati, India, and her team decided to live off 20 rupees, which is about 20 cents, a day for food.
“It was a personal choice,” Nesse said. “It was just five days, but we wanted to be more focused on the needs of people we’re relating to.”
While in Guwahati, she interacted with people along train tracks, those most locals wouldn’t come near.
Nesse said the impoverished people were either immigrants from Bangladesh or come from generational poverty with no outlet for them to get out.
“They were so accepting, shocked that we were taking time to speak with them,” Nesse said. “The people thanked us and said it was the best week of their lives because we showed them they are valuable. It’s amazing you can make a difference through something simple like drawing.”
Along with the team’s joys of meeting new people came some hardships.
Nesse said some of the team members had a hard time receiving visas between countries and many of them got sick, forcing them to live off crackers and mango jelly.
She said they had a lot of what she calls “spiritual warfare.”
“It took a lot of strength to get through it,” Nesse said. “A lot of things could have gone wrong though that didn’t.”
Nesse was born in Ecuador and lived there with her three sisters until age 5. Her parents Dale and Lillian Nesse celebrated the finished translation of the Quichua Cañar Bible in March after 28 years of helping on the project.
She went back at age 11 and said living there did put thoughts of international missions in her mind.
“It gave me a passion for travel, but on a more intimate level,” Nesse said. “(Being overseas) is home for me. It’s been hard being back. I left a piece of me in Germany. I made friends all over the world.”
Nesse said she became more passionate her senior year of high school about God and she’s proud of the route she chose. “It’s God’s opinion that matters,” she said. “You don’t have to go where everyone else goes for mission trips or school. Every decision you make goes toward what God wants.”
Nesse sees herself leading one or two year missions in the future. Her plan now is to attend Peninsula College for two years and work toward a multimedia and communications degree with an emphasis on Web design, journalism and e-commerce.
In June, she’s scheduled to talk to local Christian youth groups about her mission.
Another goal of hers is to sell her photos to benefit efforts overseas to keep children out of poverty and prostitution and to create a youth hostel to place children in school.
“People can make a difference even if they can’t travel,” she said.
“It is the most rewarding thing — helping someone fulfill their dreams.”
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.