Jordan Harper, 16, of Marion knew she wanted to be a nurse.
After 10 days of visiting inner-city agencies that care for neglected, abused, and abandoned children, the Marion High School junior now knows she wants to be a traveling nurse and care for children with these types of needs.
“It was a life-changing experience,” she said.
Sponsored by United Methodist Women, Jordan represented Valley United Methodist Church of Marion on a 10-day mission trip. The church paid for most of the costs.
A group of 41 young women from Kansas — with Jordan the only one from this area — and six sponsors started their journey June 7 from Wichita. They visited 16 cities in five states, returning June 17.
The farthest they traveled was Chicago.
One of their stops was at an agency that was assisting African families who had escaped from their native land.
“The day we were there, we helped the African children read,” Jordan said.
They also visited a temple, Navy Pier, and a science museum in the Chicago area.
The Mission Education Tour allowed the young women to experience first-hand agencies and missions supported by United Methodist Women and the United Methodist Church. The emphasis was learning about support given to the missions. Jordan reported to her church when she returned.
“Some of the children were at the missions because they had been kicked out of their homes,” she said.
The program provides homes to children and encourages them to return to school. Most could stay in agency homes up to six months and were encouraged to become self-sufficient.
“I signed up for this trip because I wanted to see what I could do after high school,” Jordan said.
She was most impressed with Epworth Village. While visiting the facility, she and other visitors played games with the children.
“Most children there had family issues and would act out because they didn’t know any different,” Jordan said.
She believed she and the other teens in her group made a difference.
“We really listened to them. We really cared,” Jordan said.
The group’s day started early — around 5 a.m.
After breakfast was prepared, the teens boarded a tour bus, taking their belongings because they stayed at a different location every night.
Lunches were served at churches or colleges in the areas they visited. By 4 p.m., they went to their next accommodations.
“Sometimes we had showers; sometimes we didn’t,” Jordan said with a smile.
Time to call home was between 9 and 11 p.m., with lights out by midnight.
“We live in a bubble in Marion,” Jordan said. “We’re pretty sheltered. I’m glad I was able to do this — to see what’s out there. I’d recommend this trip to any young Methodist woman.”