By Todd Murray
The Dominion Post
MORGANTOWN -- Amanda Hill had it all planned out.
The WVU women's soccer freshman figured she'd spend her spring break in Colorado Springs, visiting one of her three older brothers, Ray, a senior at the Air Force Academy.
Ray, though, had other ideas.
"Sorry, I won't be home,'' he said when his sister inquired about a visit. "I'll be in Thailand. Do you want to come?''
"Ha ha, yeah, good one,'' she said. "No really,'' he said.
Ray Hill and a group of 20 other kids from the Air Force Academy were traveling to Thailand as part of YWAM -- Youth with a Mission -- a national program that sends kids on mission trips all over the world.
"All it took was a little convincing from my dad, and we were on the way,'' Amanda Hill said.
Hill spent a week she'll never forget in an Akha village, just outside Chiang Rai. She and the YWAM group cleaned up a school and built and remodeled a church, working six to seven hours a day in 95-degree heat.
"It was burning season, so a lot of the smog protected us from the sun,'' Hill said. "It rained for about 10 minutes one day. That was about it.''
The living conditions in the village were primitive. She lived in a bamboo hut with a family that included two small children. The bathroom consisted of what Hill referred to as a "squatty potty,'' a fancy hole in the ground with a tile around it. She bathed in a big basin tub.
"It was just filled with water,'' she said. "You'd take a little bucket and dump it on you. Cleanliness wasn't the main concern while we were over there.''
One of the most rewarding aspects of the trip was the day the group distributed solar-panel lights to the villagers. They raised money to buy the lights back in Colorado.
"We helped install them and hand them out,'' Hill said. "Every family in the village got one light. We gave some to the church and some to the school.''