How one alumna’s Baylor mission trip led to a permanent move to serve
As a junior at Baylor in 2008-09, Kara Fonville joined the Baylor Religious Hour Choir. In between all the concerts, worship services and practices, she often heard her fellow choir members talking about the mission trip they had taken the year before to Port Shepstone, South Africa. By summer, she decided she needed to experience this for herself, and so she joined her friends for two weeks in South Africa, where she and her classmates ministered to children in schools, orphanages, hospitals and churches.
Eight years later, Kara — now Kara Richstone, BBA ’10 — lives in Port Shepstone full-time and works with her husband, Brett, at the same orphanage that she visited so many years before as a Baylor student: Rehoboth Children’s Village, a home to orphaned children that are either affected or infected by HIV/AIDS.
“Their whole goal is to give [HIV-affected children] a future… to give them a proper education, to let them be leaders and thought-changers in society,” says Kara.
As a young married couple, the Richstones each independently felt pulled to move overseas. They assumed any such move would be due to their careers, as Kara worked in marketing and Brett in engineering. But it was Rehoboth that kept surfacing in Kara’s mind. A quick Google search forever changed the trajectory of their lives.
“When I looked them up online I didn’t exactly know what I was looking for, but I looked on their volunteer page and they were looking for a couple to come and serve,” Kara says. More specifically, Rehoboth was looking for a pair that could design a water bottling and marketing process. The organization had been searching for a way to become financially self-reliant, and had just discovered a clean natural spring right on their property. It was exactly what they were looking for, and Kara and Brett had exactly the right skills to get them there. “When we heard more about their needs, we just knew it was the right fit and that is where the Lord wanted us to go.”
With all signs pointing to South Africa, Kara and Brett packed up their things and headed to Port Shepstone to create a process of bottling and selling the spring water, dubbed “Flourish.” About a year has passed since then; their first order was more than 1,000 bottles for a farmers market, and they’ve had a steady stream of customers ever since.
“Mission trips [are] where you see God is a whole new way,” Kara says. “You learn that the God you serve is also the God that people in a faraway land serve, and that while their faith may look entirely different than yours, it doesn’t take away from their personal relationship with the Father.
“When I moved here not knowing anyone but my husband, I kept hearing my marketing professor Mark Dunn’s final advice on the last day of class my senior year: ‘Do not stop yourself from opportunities because of the physical location and being scared to branch out. There are good people everywhere. You just have to find them.’”
All because of one Baylor student’s mission trip!
Sic ’em, Kara!
[We learned of this story from a Bear who shared his Baylor pride. Do you know of an inspiring story, news item, or just a fun link that makes you proud of Baylor and the Baylor family? Let us know! Click here to submit your point of pride!]