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Young missionary earns a $10,000 scholarship

July 14, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

CLEAR SPRING

Hannah Bywaters helped rebuild homes in tsunami-devastated Thailand last summer, and she returned to the country in early June to help college students learn English.

Hannah, who will turn 18 Sunday, most enjoyed working with village children when she visited Thailand as a missionary through CE (Christian Education) National.

"Most of them had nothing and lived in little one-room houses, but they were still happy all the time, whether you were playing with them or just giving them candy," she said.

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Hannah, of Clear Spring, graduated this year from Broadfording Christian Academy and heads to Lancaster (Pa.) Bible College in August with a $10,000 scholarship from Mercedes-Benz.

She is one of 150 students nationally who won the scholarship, which is designed to help students who are the first in their family to go to college.

Hannah explained in an essay she wrote for the scholarship competition that the money would help further her goal of being a missionary, because many full-time missionary programs won't accept people who have college debt.

She wants to study the Bible and music ministries in college, skills she hopes to apply someday as a missionary in foreign lands. Hannah said she would most like to work in Togo, in West Africa, and the Central African Republic.

"I would prefer to not be in the city, more out in poor places and with children not college-age," she said. She has been invited to work with some missionaries in Togo, and her church is affiliated with an orphanage in the CAR, she said.

Hannah said her mission work in Thailand did not focus much on teaching people about the Bible, because Thailand is a Buddhist country and God is a totally foreign concept. "A lot of them, if they believe, their families won't associate with them anymore," she said.

Hannah's mother, Julie, said the family had always hoped Hannah would go to college.

"She was just always very bright, very early. We just assumed she would (go), so it's exciting," Julie Bywaters said.

Hannah said she chose Lancaster Bible College because it's a small school, not far from home, and had a music program she liked.

She will spend the rest of the summer working as a sales clerk at Christian Light Bookstore near Valley Mall, and will head to Los Angeles for a youth conference through her church, where she will compete in a Bible quizzing competition. She also coordinated this summer's Bible School program for her church, which is a nightly activity for children ages 3 through sixth grade, she said.

Hannah attends Calvary Grace Brethren Church in Hagerstown.

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