‘Amazing Grace’ RV helps fund mission trips
By Cooper Nelson
GCU News Bureau
Braelyn (Mier) Armenta, and her new husband, Nick, had a selfless request for their wedding: Instead of the conventional wedding presents of kitchen appliances and home furnishings, they asked guests to donate money to their mission trip to Africa in July.
The Armentas, who wed at Christ’s Church of the Valley in metro Phoenix on May 16, had more than 300 guests in attendance but knew they would need an act of God to reach the $6,600 they needed by early July.
An act of God – in the form of a 1993 Nomad travel trailer – was just what they got.
Armenta, her husband and her half-sister, Grand Canyon University senior Vallie Dawn VanLiew, were able to raise the nearly $9,000 needed for their respective trips after their uncle donated proceeds from the sale of a pre-owned, salvaged RV not once but twice.
Armenta, a GCU Life Leader coordinator, and her husband will lead a group of 24 students on a 12-day mission trip to Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, to aid the large impoverished population residing in the city’s slums.
Their group, which leaves on July 12, joins more than 300 GCU students and staff — most of them spending from one to three weeks, but some as much as eight weeks – serving in 16 countries. VanLiew is currently serving in Wales, United Kingdom.
“It was definitely an act of God,” said Armenta, 25, who has served on three previous mission trips and will lead her first trip this year. Her group will hold Bible classes and help teach basic skills, such as sewing, to Nairobi’s less fortunate.
“We were prepared to take money out of our own savings if this hadn’t happened, but (God) has plans for you and makes them work for your good,” she said.
In early December, a regular customer at Vans RV, a Phoenix RV dealership owned and operated by Armenta’s family, brought in the recently purchased 1993 Nomad for repairs. The price of the repairs exceeded the value of the vehicle, and the customer chose to donate the vehicle to Vans’ fleet.
Kevin Plummer, Armenta’s uncle and Vans RV owner, spent two months repairing the vehicle on his own dime and chose to donate the proceeds to help finance his nieces’ trips. A man identified only as Paul, who recently had separated from his wife after 50 years of marriage, purchased the RV for $4,000 as a temporary home during his transition.
After hearing about Plummer’s donation to aid GCU mission trips, Paul returned a week later and donated an extra $300 to the cause. He said he felt God’s presence at Vans and vowed to use the time away from his wife to reconnect with God and repair his marriage. He hung a sign in the window of the RV, naming the vehicle the “Amazing Grace” trailer.
In February, after living in the trailer for two months, Paul returned to Vans a reborn Christian and was once again living with his wife. He donated the RV back to Vans. Plummer was able to sell it a second time in March for $3,000 — and again donated the funds to his nieces’ trips.
In all, Plummer raised $7,300, which completely covered the $2,100 needed for VanLiew’s trip. The remaining funds, along with money from the wedding gifts, covered the Armentas’ trip.
“We were happy to make an impact by selling (the trailer) once,” Plummer said.” We didn’t know it would come back around and we would have the opportunity to help them out twice. It’s amazing.”
Each year, GCU sends hundreds of students on mission trips across the globe over spring break and in the summer months. The number of students serving on mission trips nearly tripled in size this year, and the trips grew to more than 20.
Jacob Page, GCU’s global outreach manager, said the goal of the trips is to impact the lives of people in impoverished areas and for students to return with a passion to serve the local community.
Trip destinations this year included India, Nicaragua, Peru, South Africa, Cambodia, China, the United Kingdom, Uganda, Honduras, Ireland and Haiti. Two separate trips went to other locations, including Fiji, Kenya, Northeast Africa, Thailand and Mexico.
Armenta said she expects God’s blessings to carry over from the “Amazing Grace” trailer into the work in Nairobi.
“We are called to be obedient to what God asks us to do to further His kingdom. That’s what (Plummer did) and that’s what we’ll do,” Armenta said. “Lives (in Nairobi) are tough, but I think it’s good for college students to see that those people still live with a joy for Jesus.”
Contact Cooper Nelson at 602.639.7511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.