GREENVILLE — After finishing college a year early, Jaclyn McNeal is following her calling by participating in a mission trip to 11 countries.
McNeal, 21, of Greenville, attended Michigan State University to study journalism and graduated in this spring.
“It was an extra year God gave me to use some way,” McNeal said.
During college, McNeal was able to travel to Haiti when an opportunity presented itself through a group called Campus Crusade for Christ.
While on the mission trip, she received information on The World Race.
“I really wanted to go, but I still had two years (of school) left,” McNeal said.
According to its website, theworldrace.org, The World Race “is a journey to 11 countries in 11 months to serve the least of these while amongst real and raw community.”
Upon her senior year at college, McNeal stumbled across the link for the race again.
“I knew right away,” she said, adding she quickly applied.
The interview processes took about a month to a month and a half and gave her time to think it over to see if it was something she really wanted to do.
She was accepted by the program and made the commitment.
The website states while taking part in the race, the participants will visit 11 countries including Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam/Laos, Tanzania, Mozambique, Swaziland, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Moldova, Romania and Ireland.
“I leave the first week of September,” McNeal said.
However, she will leave for Atlanta next week for a weeklong training for the program.
McNeal explained she will be briefed about each country and be taught basic skills, such as language, to help her through her time there.
There will also be translators present to help the group with communication.
While most of her time will be spent teaching natives of each country about the way of God, McNeal will be doing a lot of hiking and camping as part of her experience.
Going into the program, McNeal did not know any of the other 65 people who are participating, but later found out a friend she went to Haiti with was doing The World Race as well.
Although 65 people will be in the whole group, while they are in each country, the group will be split into groups of six.
McNeal said they would meet up as a whole group before leaving for the next county.
The cost for McNeal to participate in The World Race is $15,500. She has been holding fundraisers, such as an upcoming garage sale in Grand Rapids that her aunt is putting on.
She has also sent out letters to ask for support either through prayer or financially.
So far, McNeal said she has raised just under half the cost, but has until February to raise the full amount.
“If its not fully raised by February,” McNeal said, “there is the risk of being sent home.”
Seeing and experiencing the different cultures from all 11 countries is something she is looking forward to through The World Race.
However, returning to Haiti is high on her list as well.
“It was this trip to Haiti the summer after my freshman year of college that sealed the deal,” McNeal said in her letters of support. “I knew I was created for something far beyond what my mind could conceive and far beyond the comforts of living in the United States.”
McNeal will be keeping a blog at JaclynMcNeal.theworldrace.org during her 11 country mission.