By Fiona Hay
How many teenagers do you know that would go on a trip to an unknown place, during their Spring Break, to help out another church? Members of the youth group of our church, First United Methodist Church, Chula Vista, did! A group of seventeen of us, including youth, Missy Batie, and the Garcia family went to Mexico to work on the Methodist church, El Mesias in Ensenada. As soon as we got to Ensenada, we were warmly greeted by El Mesias’ pastor, Pastor Juan, and the rest of the church family.
Throughout the past two years that Pastor Luis has been taking groups to the church, including the youth group; the church has changed dramatically. The master goal is to build a small fellowship hall with a kitchen (which is already in place), with the parsonage on the second floor. Right now, there is no second floor. There was a lot of work to be done at the church!
When we went to Ensenada, we knew that we were going to be working to help build a church. In return however, we believe that we have gained much more than we have ever expected to. High school senior, Kristin Williams, said regarding the trip, “The work teams to Mexico are always an awesome experience for me because when I go, I want to help the people there, but I always feel so blessed by their graciousness and unconditional love.” The members of the church in Ensenada really were gracious, loving, and kind to all of us- most of us strangers that do not speak their language.
Associate Pastor Luis Gar-cia and his family went on the trip as a family to serve El Mesias along with the youth group. Luis and Janet served as translators, as well as working alongside the youth and their family. As a part of our trip this spring, we went to help out at a mission for two days, that a family from El Mesias started about an hour’s drive away from the church. Under Janet’s supervision, we set up a small VBS in a family’s backyard- complete with roosters, turkeys, and dogs. About 25 children came both days, and even with the language barrier, we communicated Jesus through our actions and songs. We sang songs in both languages, had a mini lesson about Holy Week, made different crafts, and played games with the kids. It was very rewarding to see a beaming smile on a child that would barely whisper her name to you at the beginning of the day.
Back at the church, alongside youth and some of the young adults from El Mesias, we accomplished a lot. The first day, we had the daunting task of moving all the wood the church had from one roof to another, and sorting it. Nothing was wasted. Then for the next few days, one group worked on painting an inside hallway of the church; and another group worked on the roofs, painting, tarring, cutting wood for support beams, and tearing apart wood to be thrown away. The work was hard, but well worth the effort. Every day we could see the small changes taking place in the church. Everyone liked the work and the challenge that was presented to them.
Despite all of the work we did, above all, we had fun and got to know lots of new people. Friendships that would never have been formed before were created, a bond to never be broken. People came out of their shells to try haltingly to speak in Spanish, or English, and were often rewarded with encouragement and smiles. When asked what she gained from the trip, Andrea Baum, a high school junior, replied, “I gained self esteem from doing things I thought I could never do. I also gained friendships that are very important [to me].