By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
STORM LAKE, Iowa ó Ryan Scheetz of Buena Vista University is one of the most prolific world travelers in college baseball history.
Since 2011, the talented first baseman for the Beavers has traveled over 50,000 miles across the globe to destinations such as Granada (Spain), Kathmandu (Nepal), Munich (Germany), Prague (Czech Republic), Uganda and the South Sudan (Africa).
If you travel around the world at the equator, the distance is approximately 24,900 miles. So Scheetz has traveled this distance twice in slightly over two years. In fact, he has gone on so many journeys to different lands that he had to receive close to $900 worth of immunization shots in total prior to these trips to stay away from potential infectious diseases, according to his mom Patricia.
One of his most memorable trips was to Nepal and was arranged through his work in the 212 Degree program which operates in Minneapolis, Minn. The trip to Nepal took place Dec. 30, 2011-Jan. 25, 2012, and he received three credits for going from a course called Leadership In Evangelism.
"For about three hours in the morning for two weeks, we would talk about leadership. Later in the day, we would go out into the city and do ministry and evangelism.
"For the other two weeks, we got to climb through the Himalayan Mountains. We went on a specific trek where we were attempting a climb to 16,000 feet. It was not Mt. Everest, but it was close to where Mt. Everest is.
"Because of the amount of snow on the ground, we didnít get to go all the way up and stopped at about 9,000 feet. We were the first group in the past 11 years that wasnít able to go all the way up to the top. Normally there isnít any more than three feet of snow at the highest accumulations in January with the area we trekked.
"Unfortunately, there was eight feet of snow in places. So we turned around. But it became a blessing because we got to stay in one of the villages for another couple of days. We met a bunch of great people, and I stay in contact with several of them even today."
Scheetz said the 2-week trek involved carrying heavy gear for temperatures that would dip below zero at night to day temperatures that would be in the 50s.
He recently came back from a trip to South Sudan which took place Jan. 12-20. Two years ago, he did an internship with a local non-profit ministry in Storm Lake, Iowa for about three months with the focus on Sudanese children.
He flew to Uganda with a friend after arranging to meet with a contact.
"It took us 23 hours to reach Uganda. Then it took another 5 Ĺ hours to reach northern Uganda. We arrived at our contactís house and talked with him. He asked us what our main goal was. And we told him that we wanted to get to South Sudan to the refugee camp. And he encouraged us to go
"He told us that he had American friends who went back and forth every day from this area. I was a little nervous because everybody at my university told me that I shouldnít go there because itís too dangerous. So I was scared.
"The next morning, we took a 9 Ĺ hour bus ride to Juba, South Sudan. And I was terrified for a 30-minute period. About every five vehicles was a military truck filled with six to eight people standing in the back with AK-47 machine guns.
"I just prayed that everything would be alright. They were all over the place. You couldnít walk five feet without seeing armed military people. Ad that was different for me. I was concerned being the only white person around. All the warnings I had received before we left weighed on me. These military people kept staring at me as we drove by. I couldnít look up and make them think I was disrespecting them. I didnít know their culture and how they would react if I looked at them. So I just looked downward but could still see with my peripheral vision."
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