Movement’s Genelle Willis says God gave her two words to sum up her recent experience on a mission trip to Nicaragua: purpose and peace.
She learned part of her purpose is serving daily the people in her life, including the people she works with at Movement, she says. And she found peace on the trip, as well.
She also accomplished something else: She climbed a mountain — something, she admits, that she just does not do.
“It was a personal triumph. No. 1, because it’s a physical challenge, and No. 2, it’s something I normally wouldn’t do,” says Willis, Movement’s leave of absence administrator. “On the way up, we saw children, and got to talk to them and play with them.”
Willis was one of seven Movement team members to venture to Matagalpa, Nicaragua on a mission trip — the third such trip Movement has offered to employees this year. After spending 10 days in Uganda, East Africa last summer, Movement’s leadership decided to make mission trips available to any employees interested in going. Movement’s nonprofit foundation offers employees grants to help with the costs of their trip as long as team members have raised most of the money themselves.
So far, employees have gone to Uganda, Haiti and now Nicaragua.
“I really appreciated how inviting they are, how much they help each other and it just makes me want to create that type of environment here,” Willis says of the Nicaraguan mission. “We have to work together here, too.”
The team partnered with Eric and Wendy Harbinson and their ministry, In His Steps. Their son Brett Harbinson, Movement’s talent development director, led the trip.
It was the first overseas mission trip for Sean Earhart, a talent acquisitions coordinator who works at Movement’s National Sales Support Center in Fort Mill, S.C. As a family friend to the Harbinsons, he watched them leave corporate America to become missionaries in a socialist, developing country.
“They moved there and sat, kind of quiet, and let the community accept them,” Earhart says. “They just opened their doors and held Bible studies and slowly got to know the students, to know the people around them.”
The Harbinsons work with students studying English at UNAN, a national university. They also visit students in their homes around the city.
“They’re living in little shacks, dirt floors, living next to the pigs and horses,” Earhart says. “It’s different when you’re hanging out with these students, and you don’t really know where they live. But when you actually see the person in their environment, it’s pretty impactful.”
Team members helped deliver cooking technology designed to solve health issues from smoke inhalation and safety issues from the huts catching fire.
Instead of cooking over an open flame in their small stick huts, the team delivered a portable, smokeless, cool-to-the-touch stove to a family in the mountain village.
For some, the trip reinforced why working at Movement is more than churning loans and making profit. Just ask Matt Konlande, a Movement branch manager in Texas.
“The fact that we work for an amazing company helps. We work for a place whose mission is to love and value people. I got to see that in a different light going down there. I think it’s made me a better person coming back here, whether I’m talking to employees, or customers, or business partners.”
For others, the trip produced both spiritual and physical gains.
Says Willis: “I learned a lot from the people I went with, how they get up and read their Bible and journal. And how they’re physically fit, I’ve worked out every day since I got back.”