Viera High School grad heading on 11-month, 11-country mission
Summer Conneen is about to go on an 11-month, 11-country mission that will take the Viera High School graduate all over the world.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
Summer Conneen is passing up a trip to graduate school -— for now — for what she sees as a life-changing experience.
The 22-year-old Viera High School graduate is going on an 11-month, 11-country mission put on by Adventures in Missions, which is based out of Gainesville, Ga.
“I’m ecstatic,” Conneen said. “I’m getting a little more nervous. I leave (on Oct. 5). It’s definitely exciting. I have to somehow learn how to pack a backpack for a year.”
Conneen, who has been on other missions — including family missions — to places like Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and areas around the United States, said she chose this particular Christian-based quest in part because it will take her to places she has never been before.
The destinations include Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Vietnam, Cambodia, Albania, Serbia, Romania, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda.
“It’s to not only serve people in other countries and spread the word, but we also call it a heavy, hardcore discipleship program for us who are actually going on the race,” Conneen said. “We call ourselves Racers.
“So not only do we go out and serve people in all the different countries and do different ministries — children’s ministry, women’s ministry … we focus a lot on sex trafficking and teaching English in schools and Bible studies. For the racers ourselves, it’s about trying to get us into a deeper, more intimate walk in our faith.”
After graduating from the University of South Florida with a bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences with a concentration in athletic training, Conneen was looking into grad schools but decided to put that off until she gets back.
After attending a training session in Atlanta in August, she’ll be bringing her backpack, a hammock, sleeping bag, clothes and a laptop. She will be posting to her blog: summerconneen.theworldrace.org
“I’m bringing my GoPro that my dad gave me,” she said. “On my blog, I post once a week. I can post videos and pictures and blogs about where we’re staying, what we’re seeing and who we’re ministering to, things like that.”
In one of her blog posts, she wrote about four reasons she’s not going on this mission. She’s not going to find herself. She’s not going to simply travel the world, or to boost her resume. And perhaps most insightfully, she wrote about one more reason why she’s not just going on this trip:
“I’m not going just because I can,” Conneen said. “God kind of sat me down and was like, ‘Listen, this is my plan for you. You need to put all your plans aside. This what I have set out for you. This is what you’re going to do. It’s going to be amazing.’
“Everyone had a picture taken of themselves when we got to training camp. This was about the middle of August. A day afterward, all of our trainers said, ‘Take a good, long look. This person a year from now is going to look nothing like the person you are now.’
“It’s true. I’m excited.”