Mission Through Music: Benefit concert to support hopeful Lark

by Mackenzie Miller – Horizon Co-Editor-in-Chief

With only a few weeks until her high school graduation from Eastern Mennonite School in Harrisonburg, Va., Mariana Martinez is waiting.

Waiting for the news.

Will she be a Lark come August?

Unlike most students who apply to Hesston, filling out the application and getting accepted is only the start of the tedious process Martinez must endure.

Originally from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Martinez and her family came to the United States in 2009. The Mennonite Hispanic Initiative invited her father, Luis Martinez, to help plant a church in Harrisonburg, reaching out to the Hispanic community.

After earning his Master’s of Divinity at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Luis continued to minister to those in Harrisonburg.

But in 2017, the Martinez family received notice from the government: Return home to Honduras or jeopardize your status.

In order to abide by the law, the family returned to Honduras to await governmental response.

All except for Mariana, who still waits to graduate high school and attend Hesston College. That is, if she can come up with the money.

“Being a dependent does not allow me to work so I have been in the mindset that I have to try my hardest and hope for as many scholarships as I can,” she said.

Not giving up on the hope of coming to Hesston, Martinez plans to play soccer, sing in the Bel Canto choir, and study ministry.

“Hesston is a small community, but it is very alive and proactive,” she said. “I want this a lot and I feel directed to go to Hesston College.”

While the college waits on her “evidence of sufficient funds,” Martinez is trying everything in her power to speed the process along.

Mari Sailors, Associate Director of International Admissions, continues to walk with Martinez, as well as with many other international students, throughout this process.

Sailors says they bring energy to our campus.

“The international program here is big and people care about it,” she said. “They want to support international culture on campus.”

And people do care. In tangible ways.

Enter music director Russell Adrian, the Bel Canto singers, and the women’s soccer team.

Inspired by Martinez’ gifts and desire to attend Hesston, Adrian began brainstorming ways to personally help Martinez.

That’s when he dreamed up the “Mission Through Music” benefit concert. The concert will support Mariana Martinez as she graduates high school and looks for enough funds to apply for her visa.

With the Bel Canto singers providing entertainment and the soccer team serving refreshments, “Mission through Music: A concert to benefit Mariana Martinez” will commence at Whitestone Mennonite Church on May 9 at 7 p.m. Donations will be collected for the Martinez family.

The Martinez family with their father, Luis Martinez, at his graduation from Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

Adrian would also like to plan this event alongside a fundraiser in Martinez’ current place of residence: Harrisonburg, Va.

Noah Yoder and Andre Eanes, both Eastern Mennonite School graduates, will share personal stories about Mariana throughout the program.

These connections continue to fuel support for Martinez across the country.

Martinez is grateful. When Adrian posed this benefit concert idea to her, Martinez was all for it. She just couldn’t believe that there were people still wanting to help.

But the idea of missions through music won’t stop after May 9.

Adrian is hopeful for the future. Many international students wish to come to Hesston College each year, but struggle to find the financial means. Adrian sees this concert as a potential annual event, funding international students in future years.

For now, Mariana Martinez will keep waiting. She’s determined to get here.

And so is Mari Sailors.

“There won’t be a stone left unturned before Martinez gives up on Hesston.”

 

Mariana Martinez can be reached at marian.martinez@emhs.net

 

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