Alum touts benefits of Kaleo experience
It wasn’t easy for Heather Qualls Kirk to let her oldest daughter Allison be away from home for a whole month, with two weeks of that out of the country. But the 1993 Wayland graduate and teacher at St. John’s Episcopal School in Odessa, Texas, knew that her daughter would be in the hands of friends from her alma mater.
Before heading into her senior year at Permian High School, Allison spent part of her 2017 summer in Wayland’s new Kaleo experience, a program designed to help high school students shape their calling to serve God and to grow in their Christian walk. For Allison, it sounded like a great opportunity.
“I’ve always wanted to go on a mission trip internationally, and the wilderness part of Kaleo sounded pretty cool,” says Allison. “In the Dominican Republic, I took a step back and looked at my life and all that has happened, and how it has led to a certain point. It really confirmed for me the call to missions.”
Heather said she has known of Allison’s love for missions and was not the least bit surprised to see her jump at the chance to participate in such an immersive program. From her parental viewpoint, the Kaleo program had some great positives.
“I like the training aspect that they did, not just throwing them in there. I knew she’d get a great foundation in this experience,” says Heather. “We were impressed with the organization of everything, the commissioning service at the beginning and the testimonial and decommissioning at the end. I was impressed with every aspect of it.”
The Kaleo format is simple: students register for the summer experience and begin to raise funds and prayer support from friends and family. The year-long mentorship begins four months before the students leave for the immersion process, usually by someone from their home church, continuing for the seven months after they return home.
The month-long immersion begins in June, with the first week at Camp Eagle in Glorieta, N.M. Here, students participate in wilderness experiences for growth and identity formation. The next week involves biblical study on the Wayland campus with faculty focusing on Christian leadership and service. The final two weeks take place in the Dominican Republic in partnership with Students International and WBU alums Dustin and Courtney Williams, who are serving there. Student participants work alongside full-time missionaries in various settings – medical care, agriculture, social work and more – to learn hands-on what it means to serve God.
Allison chose the agriculture program while in the global missions sphere because she had never experienced that before. She enjoying chopping bamboo with a machete, building a rabbit hut and helping the Williamses with things that will help them establish a new farm for locals. She said the entire experience has been positive.
Deadline to register for the 2018 Kaleo experience is in March 2018. To learn more about Kaleo, visit the website or contact Donnie Brown on campus at (806) 291-1168.
From the History Files
As the reality of his task set in soon after his arrival in 1909, Wayland’s first president Dr. Isaac E. Gates remarked that he needed time to “get away to meditate” because he was now in charge of “twelve thousand dollars in debt for a hole in the ground.”
A Baylor-educated man, Gates came to Wayland in 1909 to serve as the school’s first president. Prior to the appointment, he had served as pastor of several churches as well as having a background in fundraising, a skill he would need immediately upon arrival in West Texas. He served on the Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and on the board of the Baptist Standard numerous times. He was a dedicated Baptist, a preacher, pastor, fundraiser and above all, a gifted speaker and storyteller.
But Gates really didn’t know what he was getting into when he accepted the position as President of Wayland Literary and Technical Institute. Like Dr. Wayland before him, he suffered from asthma and hoped the drier climate would benefit his health. Aside from that, however, he didn’t ask any questions about the school when he was offered the job for he knew that God’s call was leading him to West Texas anyway.
Despite those first bleak days, Gates would soon secure loans for the funds needed to complete the building, lead the school through its first name change to Wayland Baptist College and oversee the first term of classes in September 1910. He also oversaw the building of the first dormitory in 1910, later named Matador Hall.
After the college settled into its routine, Gates became the primary pitchman, promoting Wayland in various publications, building relationships with the local community, and leading the college to expand its offerings. But after six years at its helm, Gates bid Wayland adieu to return to the pastorate in 1915. Though exhausted, Gates still had a love for the school, writing, “I never shall see the day when I cease to love and support Wayland.” Gates died in 1933.
Meet your Alumni Board
Brenda Johnson Gonzalez, BA’73, has been a friendly face on the Association of Former Students executive board for quite some time, but she is never far from the Wayland family. As coordinator of WBU’s Office of BAS/BCM Records since 2007 (after serving as evaluator and then auditor in the office starting in 2002), Brenda is perhaps one of the most familiar with the process of helping nontraditional students earn their Wayland degree.
In her role, Brenda helps oversee the evaluators and advisors that work with students across the Wayland system, tasked with evaluating transfer credits, work experience and military service that all plays into creating a solid degree plan for adult students and makes their educational dreams possible.
“I enjoy helping our non-traditional students, as much as possible, to obtain their bachelor’s degree. Many of them started college many years ago but life happened and they had to start working to provide for their family,” she says. “Our external campuses offer evening classes which allow them to take classes while continuing to earn a living for their families. Many of our students are active military and we are able to accept credits from their service school and military occupation. We also are working with law enforcement and TDCJ employees by allowing them to work on their degree online.”
In her time on the WBU staff, Brenda has worked with thousands of students, tracking them from application to graduation, a point of great personal pride. And as someone with plenty of military family – a son and daughter are currently active in the U.S. Air Force – she loves the fact that Wayland is known for its military-friendly nature.
Brenda is mom to several WBU alums, including son Efrain Gonzalez, BA’00, and wife Jennifer, BS’99, MAC’17; daughter Esther Harper, BA’03; and daughter-in-law Elizabeth Bryant Gonzalez, BAS’16. Another daughter, Rachel Gonzalez Janezich, and a son, B.J., also attended.
“I’ve enjoyed helping with the late-night study breaks during finals as it gives the alumni a chance to interact with the students,” she adds. Brenda will rotate off the board in August 2019.
Alumni on a Mission
Cotton candy, popcorn, bounce houses and face painting may not seem like important church-building tools. But for North American Mission Board missionaries Joel and Ronnie Arrington, both Wayland Baptist University alumni, these things can all be key to building their church in Delta, Colo.
The Arringtons are church planters in Delta, a community of roughly 8,900 in western central Colorado. Since moving to the community 18 months ago, the Arringtons and their children have become a vital part of the city and have grown to love the people to whom they are ministering. Their congregation, Church Without Walls, began meeting in their home and has just recently begun renting a vacated church building that just happens to be in a part of the city they were hoping to focus ministry efforts.
That’s why the couple is excited about hosting a team of Wayland alumni for a mission trip this summer, using the tools of a block party to reach out to new residents and forge relationships.
“The block party trailers belong to the state convention, and we can use them for the week for $100,” notes Ronnie, who earned her BBA degree at WBU in 1996. “The trailers are amazing; they come with the popcorn machine, cotton candy machines, two bounce houses, bean bag toss games and face painting and all the supplies we need.”
The plan for the Wayland Alumni mission trip is simple: participants will spend Monday through Thursday mornings canvassing neighborhoods and passing out flyers advertising that evening’s block party. The afternoon will include some down time after lunch, then the block parties will be held in four strategic areas the Arringtons are choosing with the help of their church membership.
Read more about the mission trip details here