How APU mission trips have made an impact around the world.

Mission trips are a great way for communities around the world to connect. Through human connection and the word of God, we are able to connect and help others. Whether it’s for a few days, weeks, months or years, these trips have a great impact on everyone involved. 

At APU, mission trips play a key role in the four cornerstones — Christ, Scholarship, Community and Service — President Felix implemented in the mid-1990s. Mission trips are a way to practice each cornerstone at the same time. Through these, we are able to create a better understanding of ourselves, those around us and God. 

This past summer, it felt like every time I opened a social media app someone was in another country. Vacations, study abroads, mission trips—my feed was filled with different locations. Europe was by far the most popular destination with countries like France, Italy, Greece, etc. But why was there the sudden interest in going abroad? How do you get involved with these programs? 

In an interview with Hannah Grace Cicciari, a junior intern for the Office of Service and Discipleship (OSD), she explained how students can apply for a variety of trips throughout the year. There are around 20 trips available per year, ranging from local to as far as Africa. The longer and farther trips usually take place during breaks, while the shorter trips occur on a weekly basis. 

“Mission trips allow students to come together with other people that they may not know in any other sphere of APU with one common goal of going and learning from another culture,” said Cicciari. 

Cicciari has also been on a handful of trips herself. The most memorable for her was a six-week summer trip to Uganda after her freshman year at APU. Cicciari described the trip as the “best and hardest thing she’s ever done.” Her perception of the world and Christianity changed dramatically while she was there. 

“It was actually the culture shock of coming back,” said Cicciari. “I wanted nothing to do with the U.S.”

Despite the toughness of her last mission trip, Cicciari isn’t letting that stop her from going on more. This coming summer she will lead a trip to Ireland as she’s excited to see what’s in store for her. 

Other students have also proclaimed their love and excitement for mission trips. Paige Uyehara, a graduate in the Masters of Public Health program, participated in a two-week basketball mission trip to the Philippines this past summer. She had never been out of the country before, but walked away with great memories and a deeper connection with God. 

“Growing up in the U.S., we all have this idea of what it’s like in third-world countries but until you experience it and see things first hand you don’t really know,” said Uyehara. “You really see how much we take things for granted.”

The timing for Uyehara’s trip was influenced by her graduate program. She knew she wanted to go on a mission trip after graduation, but wasn’t sure which one to choose. Basketball gave her an opportunity to travel within her schedule. 

While in the Philippines, Uyehara had many opportunities to connect with the local community. Because it was a basketball trip, her team played a game almost every morning. After each game, the team shared their testimonies and talked one-on-one with their opponents. Uyehara also participated in local feedings, played with local children and helped at the pregnancy clinic. 

Uyehara’s experience in the Philippines makes her more inclined to go back. She felt as if two weeks wasn’t enough to make a big enough impact as she would like. She would also rather keep going to the same place and continue the connections she’s previously built than go to new locations. 

“In order to keep having an impact and be able to make stronger connections, we need more time to make a difference,” said Uyehara. 

Jayden Khneiser, a senior studying interdisciplinary studies, also went on a two-week mission trip to Panama this past May. He wanted to get out of his comfort zone to strengthen his faith, and a mission trip seemed like the best solution. This trip would lead him to take a step further and get baptized. 

During those two weeks, he and his team installed water filters for families in poverty while also spreading the Gospel. While they got a lot of work done, there was still more to accomplish. Khneiser would have liked to stay longer, but with the workload he thought two weeks was adequate. 

“I’m happy with the work we did in the time we had,” said Khneiser. 

Khneiser’s biggest take away from his trip was seeing the smile on the local’s faces when his team gave them water. They were happy everyday despite the circumstances surrounding them. Because of his experiences in Panama, Khneiser has been called to lead trips to Panama, Guatemala and Belize this coming summer. 

Mission trips allow someone to get out of their comfort zone and broaden their perspective of the world. Each of these people have had their lives changed in some way by immersing themselves in other cultures and growing closer to God. While the trip itself might have been a struggle, it’s the memories they made, relationships they formed and services they provided that gave them a greater meaning to life. 

There are several opportunities to get involved with a mission’s team for the upcoming year. Trips to Dominican Republic, Greece, India and Poland are just a few locations to choose from.You can go to the OSD office in the Rose Garden, email the team or go to to get connected and plan your next trip!