One night early last summer while sitting with her family at the dining room table, Keia Blair said she was going to take off a year from college to go on a nine-month mission trip around the world.
A 20-year-old girl boarding a plane with people she just met to go minister and work with people in India, Nepal, Malawi, Zambia, Ecuador and Zimbabwe — no big deal for her parents, right?
Initially, Scott and Liz Heyne were unsure about their daughter’s idea.
Blair then tried to sell it by saying they could celebrate Christmas twice — once in June when she was still here and then Dec. 25 when she would be on Adventures in Missions’ World Race mission trip.
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“Like that was going to make it easier on me,” Scott said. “I love Christmas. It’s my favorite time of the year, and she knew that.”
That apparently was convincing because they put up Christmas decorations inside and outside their Seymour home and invited family down from Anderson — in June.
“The neighbors probably thought it was nuts,” Scott said. “We decorated the front and everything else like we always did and just had it for that night.”
After getting more questions answered and doing a little more thinking, the Heynes decided their daughter could go.
While Scott was worried about security and health issues his daughter could face, Liz didn’t think it was possible for Blair to raise the $15,000 required to go on the trip.
“She was just like, ‘If God wants me to go, it’s going to happen,'” Liz said.
Even though Blair could make installments after she left for the trip, she wound up raising all of the money beforehand.
“The more and more that she was raising, the more I was like, ‘This is going to happen, and this is where God wants her,'” Liz said. “For me, just watching the money come in was just amazing. … In my mind at the beginning, I’m thinking, ‘How are you going to raise this money? It’s not feasible,’ she’s like, ‘You watch. It is.’ She’s that determined.”
The Heynes received comfort when they went to Atlanta, Georgia, for a sendoff event.
There, they were able to talk to other parents whose children were going on the trip and hear from parents who had gone on past trips.
“I talked to a number of dads that were telling me they had the same concerns I had,” Scott said. “They put us in groups and let us talk and get our thoughts out there, and they tried to ease you as much as they could. The women did the same thing.”
Liz said her daughter had always been around her, so it was hard to think about not seeing her for nine months.
“For me, it was like she’s going to leave me forever, so that was hard,” Liz said. “But when we left Georgia, I left in the car with peace. After being there in the groups, I was with moms, and we all got to talk and share how we feel.”
Since then, she has stayed in contact with the mothers of the girls in Blair’s group via phone.
“It really helps to have that,” Liz said.
At the sendoff, the Heynes learned about a unique opportunity that would allow them to work alongside their daughter in the mission field.
Through the parent vision mission trip, parents spend a week in the country in which their child is working at the time. For Blair’s group, it’s Ecuador.
The child has to invite their parents to go on the trip, and they have to accept the offer.
The Heynes did that in October.
“I have a heart for missions,” Liz said. “Me and her are a lot alike in things like that, and so for me, I was automatically like, ‘We’re going. I’m so excited. This is awesome. I can’t wait.'”
Scott, on the other hand, said he initially had no desire to go.
“I just thought that’s something that’s out of my comfort zone,” he said. “I’ve coached ball teams for years and years, and I know working with kids in that environment. … She tells me, ‘You’re going to be out in the mission field with me,’ and I’ve never done anything like that before.”
Once again, some convincing by Blair changed his mind.
The Heynes then came up with ways to raise the nearly $5,000 they needed for the trip. The first installment is due Feb. 1, and the rest has to be collected before the trip.
It costs nearly $850 per person to go, the airline tickets range from $850 to $1,400 per person depending on the number of stops and each person has to see a doctor and get three shots.
The Heynes have been selling items through a yard sale site on Facebook. They also have done babysitting and a bake sale.
People can still donate items for the online yard sale and join the site to make purchases. Monetary donations also may be sent to Seymour Christian Church, 915 Kasting Road, Seymour, IN 47274 and noting it’s for the Heynes’ mission trip.
Another way to donate is through their GoFundMe account at gofundme.com/get-scott-liz-heyne-to-ecuador.
Other fundraisers will be announced on their Facebook page, facebook.com/elizabethdonham.miles, so people can send them a friend request to stay up-to-date.
The Heynes have to be in Quito, Ecuador, on March 31 and will leave April 5.
They will have one full day to spend with Blair, but the rest of the time will be spent working in the mission field.
“We’re going to be staying with house hosts, and we may not be staying together,” Liz said. “They house the dads, and they house the moms. We won’t even be with (Blair) at night.”
Since September, Blair’s parents have been able to follow her work through her weekly blog and photos and videos she posts online. They also can connect with her online when she has WiFi access.
The upcoming trip will allow them to see her in person for the first time since she left.
“For me, I hope to grow closer spiritually with the Lord and with Keia as a family,” Liz said. “Getting to experience growing closer together, that just excites me to think about getting to do that with her. That and witnessing to people that have never heard about Jesus, that excites me. I just always have a passion for that kind of stuff.
“I work in social work, so for me, I love to help people, and it’s exciting for me to be able to go and help people that are going to appreciate it because in my line of work, they don’t always appreciate it,” she said.
Scott said it’s a great opportunity to see his daughter in the mission field firsthand.
“I see the pictures, and I see her face, and I see the face of the kids and the elderly. … I see the look in their eye and the smile when she sends us a video,” he said. “To me, I really want to see Keia work.”
Since his other daughters have done mission work, Scott said he thought it was important for him to do it, too.
“Liz’s dad was a retired Nazarene preacher, and so she has had it her whole life. I haven’t,” he said. “So from that standpoint, I’m excited to see Keia in her environment and her love, and I hope that translates to me to make me a better person.”
Even though Scott said he cringed when Blair first brought up the mission trip, he now realizes she will have friendships for a lifetime, and he and his wife also will remain friends with the parents.
Blair has inspired her older brother to go on his first mission trip for two weeks in October.
“I want all of the kids to do that. I think they need to see that,” Scott said.
“Keia wants all of us to go on a mission trip,” Liz said. “She wants all of the kids out there. She would be happy if our whole family was out there together.”
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From March 31 to April 5, Scott and Liz Heyne will join their daughter, Keia Blair, in the mission field in Ecuador. Since September, she has done mission work in various countries around the world. The nine-month trip ends in May.
The Heynes have to raise nearly $5,000. The first installment is due Feb. 1, and the rest has to be collected before the trip.
Here’s how you can help:
Donate items to their yard sale site on Facebook or join the site to make purchases. For information, follow their Facebook page, facebook.com/elizabethdonham.miles.
Send a monetary donation to Seymour Christian Church, 915 Kasting Road, Seymour, IN 47274 and noting it’s for the Heynes’ mission trip.
Donate to their GoFundMe account at gofundme.com/get-scott-liz-heyne-to-ecuador.
Send them a friend request on Facebook to stay up-to-date on other fundraisers.