Hampstead teen's mission is to orphans in Albania

March 22, 1995|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Spring break for one Hampstead teen will be a mission trip to Albania and long hours of work with orphans.

Bethany R. Schultz, 14, leaves Friday with her father, David Schultz, for Tirane, the capital of the former Eastern Bloc country.

Although she won't be far from the Adriatic Sea, she is not packing a bathing suit.

"I won't need play clothes," she said. "I'm taking work clothes, jeans and sweats, stuff I won't mind getting dirty."

Bethany is going abroad with the prayers of several hundred well-wishers.

Earlier this month, she mailed more than 100 letters asking for prayer pledges from family, friends and neighbors. Many wrote with promises of support and donations to defray the cost of the trip.

While Bethany, a freshman at North Carroll High School, has the geography down -- "near Italy and Greece and the Adriatic Sea" -- she has little other knowledge of the underdeveloped country.

"My dad joined an advance team last fall to take a look at the country," Bethany said. "He told me there is no reason to go to Albania other than to improve it."

Mr. Schultz, owner of a construction company and director of Hampstead chapter Youth for Christ, an international organization, makes a mission trip every year.

For the past two years, he has traveled to Romania and worked with orphans. He chose a service project in Albania this year and told his daughter the experience could be much harsher than his previous trips.

"It is important for our children to compare how we live with others," Mr. Schultz said. "We take for granted what the rest of the world can only dream of."

Bethany and her father will land in Germany, where they will join about 50 American teens who live on U.S. military bases in Europe before the group flies to Albania.

"Ordinarily, they would drive from Germany," Dawn Schultz, Bethany's mother, said. "But, because of the situation in Bosnia, they have to fly."

Bethany is the only student from the United States to make the trip, sponsored by the Department of Defense schools in Europe. She and the other teens, who are members of the Military Community Youth Ministries, will work and live in an Albanian orphanage for about two weeks.

"We want to build a playground and a bike trail," she said. "Although, most of the kids don't have bikes."

Bikes would be a luxury in an area where people still use ox carts for transportation, she said.

Dawn Schultz said she encourages her four children to adopt a world view and "not just think of the problems here." She is excited that Bethany, her eldest child and only daughter, has the opportunity.

"This could change her life," Ms. Schultz said. "She could come back with a different perspective on life here. This kind of trip should be a requirement for every teen."

Bethany said she has wanted to make a mission trip for years.

"My parents decided a month ago that I could go," she said. "It seems like I have been waiting for this forever."

She hopes to make friends with the children, who range in age from 6 to 16, and possibly start a few pen-pal relationships.

"It is really tough to judge their ages," Mr. Schultz said. "They have led such different lives and many of them have to grow up so quickly."

Bethany said, "Many of them have parents alive but who can't support them."

She is not concerned with the language barrier.

"We will be able to communicate somehow," she said. "I think they will understand what we are doing and that we are there because we love them."

The teens also plan a Vacation Bible School for the orphans. They are taking materials for craft projects and care packages containing "some necessities like toothbrushes and socks and some wants like candy."

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