NAPPANEE, Ind. (WNDU)- Early Sunday morning the Lady Panthers Soccer Team from NorthWood High set out for a week-long mission trip to Panama. NewsCenter 16's Jen Cardone had a chance to catch up with the team before they headed out for the adventure.
"I'm very excited, I can't wait, I've been bouncing around in my seat for the last month waiting for this trip," said Neely Trenshaw, a junior outside defender for the team.
"This is the third one I've taken, and the goal is to do it every three years," said Phil Ummel, the head coach for the ladies. "The goal is every kid once in their high school career gets to go on one of these trips with us."
Ummel was inspired to start the trips back when he started coaching the team.
"I had a girl who took a trip to a baby center in Kenya and just came back raving about the experience and how it changed her life and how impactful it was," Ummel said. "And I started brainstorming, how can we actually do this with an entire team?"
Four years later, the team went to that same baby center in Kenya.
Taylor Luster, a student at Baylor University in Texas, came back to take the trip again.
"I'd say it was a massive, formative experience in my life and I just wanted to relive that and help make this experience as great as it was for me for these other girls," Luster said. "I saw poverty first-hand, I had never seen that. We were able to go into different neighborhoods and actually see the genuine needs of these people, and it just helped me gain a worldwide perspective that I didn't have before."
First-timers are ready for the adventure.
"I hope to take away, realize not everybody is as fortunate as I am so just to humble myself and be grateful for what I have," said Kira Robinson, a junior and the team's goalie.
"I'm looking forward to spreading the word of God and helping people out and to see how lucky we are for the lives we live and how other people live," said junior Morgan Stickley, a mid-field forward on the team.
At the girls' last meeting, they practiced a skit that they'll perform in Panama. The skit is meant to help get over the Spanish language barrier.
"They could understand what we were doing and they could see God working through us and just see how God impacts us and we were able to show that to these little kids," said Luster, reflecting on her last mission trip to Costa Rica.
The ladies are ready to change their own lives and the lives of those they meet.
"I'm really excited that I can just bond with the rest of my teammates and get closer to them and closer to God," said Robinson.
"The opportunity came and I decided that I wasn't going to pass it up and I decided that I was going to go," said Stickley.
The ladies flew to Panama on Sunday where they will work with ministries and orphans for the next week. Coach Ummel said this is an experience he wants all the girls to remember.
Those who are on the trip wrote support letters to family and friends to raise the money to go. They're doing the mission trip through an organization called SCORE International, a short-term mission organization.