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Lander students team up on mission trip to Cambodia

October 06, 2009

Ellison Poston had her heart set on becoming a veterinarian because she said she is good with animals. But after spending a day shadowing her aunt Jan Sullivan as she performed her duties as a hospital trauma nurse in Columbia, she decided to follow in her footsteps.

So Poston transferred from Clemson University where she was a pre-veterinarian major, to Lander University where she is a sophomore in the university's nursing program.

In July, she spent 10 days on a mission trip to Cambodia with 13 other members of Woodfields Baptist Church in Greenwood. The group included another aunt, Lynn Sargent, and her son, Jeremiah, 8, of Ninety Six. Sargent adopted Jeremiah from Cambodia when he was 3 years old and this was his first trip back to his homeland since coming to live in the U.S.

In Cambodia, Poston and the others in the mission group witnessed many of the hardships faced by villagers living in one of the world's poorest nations - problems such as unsanitary living conditions and no formal health care.

They spent their time in a village in Kampong Thom, Cambodia's second largest province, a four-hour van ride north of the capital, Phnom Penh. Poston and others in the group worked at an orphanage called The Shelter of Love Center, which is home to 51 disadvantaged and displaced children. Its founder and operator is Sue Singleton, a Baptist missionary associated with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Poston taught English and bible stories to youngsters ranging in age from 4 to 20. She described the people of the village as warm and welcoming. "The people flocked to us," she said.

She and another Lander student, Adrienne Oliver of Greenwood, worked together on one occasion teaching English to a group of villagers. Oliver is majoring in mass communication at Lander.

Poston said the Cambodia experience gave her a better appreciation for her daily routine here at home and comforts like food, air conditioning and showers. She was glad to return home, but leaving was bittersweet. "The children were clinging to us until the minute we left, and they gave us bracelets and necklaces they had made as going-away gifts."

Poston has been on mission trips in this country but the visit to Cambodia was her first time overseas. "I felt like I was meant to see other parts of the world," she said, adding that she hopes to go to Africa next.

She is the daughter of Attorney Kenny Poston and Nancy Poston, the director of Lander's Equestrian Program. Ellison Poston is an avid horsewoman. "I've been around horses most of my life," she said, explaining that she began taking riding lessons at the age of 7 and competed in equestrian events when she was in middle school and high school. The Poston family has seven horses at their home in Hodges and she finds time to ride every day.

Poston's older sister, Meg, graduated from Lander in 2007 with a degree in business with a health care management emphasis, and her younger sister, Katherine, is a senior at Greenwood High School.