by Dennis Dalman
Bethany Fristad of Sartell is about to set off on an around-the-world trip with extended stops in 11 countries for an 11-month period.
But it won’t be the typical sight-seeing pleasure trip – well, not exactly, anyway, although in one way it will be a pleasure trip because Fristad’s greatest pleasure is connecting with and helping others.
Fristad is a member of an organization called “World Race,” which is a Christian mission that sends young people, ages 21-35, in teams throughout the world that help others in a variety of ways: construction projects, work in nurseries or hospitals, teaching English, helping work against human trafficking, building relationships with orphans and virtually any other tasks that need to be done. World Race began in Mexico in 2006 and has been going strong ever since. The motto of World Race is “11 countries, 11 months, 1 God.”
In mid-July, Fristad will leave for a two-week training camp in Atlanta, Ga. Her World Race squad consists of 60 people from all over the United States. Each squad is split up into seven teams at each country they visit, although all 60 travel together from country to country.
The 11 countries Fristad will visit and work in are Cambodia, China, India, Kenya, Nepal, Romania, Rwanda, Thailand, Philippines, Uganda and Ukraine.
Visiting foreign countries to do mission work is nothing new for Fristad. In fact, just this week she returned from a mission trip to Haiti (her second trip there) where she taught Bible school and played with children all day in a village named Lescayes five hours south of Port au Prince, Haiti’s capital. Some of Fristad’s college friends were along on the trip.
Fristad just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and leadership from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.
“The trip with college friends to Haiti was just amazing,” she said. “What’s really great is my friends all support my passion, but some never really understand where I was coming from. They’d never experienced it. To have best friends go to Haiti was really special. Now they understand that passion and we have a strong bond. The trip changed their lives as similar trips changed mine.”
Fristad has also made three trips to Sierra Leone in western Africa, where she worked with orphans, and last May she spent a month in Nicaragua in Central America, where she worked at a school and helped with clean-water projects and ways to prevent deforestation.
“At age 22, I’ve been blessed to be able to travel and meet so many people,” she said. “I’m so grateful to them. I leave a piece of my heart at every place I go.”
Fristad said she does not feel happiest while living in a very abundant United States.
“When I travel and when I’m standing face to face with people less fortunate is when I feel the most alive, like when I’m holding a little child,” she said. “I want to do whatever makes me feel most alive. Living in the United States and just having fun here is too much for me. It’s not enough of what I need. It doesn’t fulfill me.”
But Fristad was quick to add she understands why others are not on her same wavelength.
“Most do not have the time or money to just go somewhere,” she said, “But I do. We must invest in young people for the betterment of the whole world.”
Fristad is currently raising money to pay for her 11-month journey. Recently, she, family, neighbors and friends hosted a mammoth garage sale and plant sale that raised $1,600. She needs $15,000 and has already raised $11,000 of that, with just $4,000 to go. Anybody who would like to help Fristad pay for the cost of her trip should contact her webpage at bethanyfristad.theworldrace.org
People who donate to Fristad’s mission trip will be able to follow her progress country to country via her website and her ongoing blog.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.