Bonding with children, encouraging faith and finding a new part of themselves, a group of teens from Calvary Chapel Sequim revisited their Mexican stomping grounds for a week in March.
They braved smoldering temperatures well into triple digits and a lack of showers in Mezquital, located in central Mexico, to bring smiles and entertain children ages 4-14 with games, crafts, sports and plenty of piggyback rides. This was the third trip for some of the Sequim teens.
Andrew Thomas, church youth leader, said the ultimate goal of the trip was to give free time to Mexican mothers to attend Bible studies and install electrical components in a commons area.
The group also worked with men and teenagers.
Thomas said they are starting to see teens change and develop more because it used to be common for them only to be farm workers and married at 15 but now they are waiting until they are older to wed and find careers.
Zach Springer said every year he goes back, he notices faith strengthen. He’s in his third year of Spanish at Sequim High School and used his language skills to start and follow some conversations.
“It puts me in awkward situations but definitely puts links in my armor for later on,” Springer said. Chyrell Jones said people are noticing a change in her after she came back home.
“‘Why are you talking to me?’” Jones said people asked her. “I’m just trying to be friendly.”
Teen Shaun Carr said he’s been a Christian for four months and the trip helped put things in perspective
“It really cemented who I am,” Carr said.
A handful of the long-timers like Aerl Bailey and Jacob VanGesen said they knew what to expect but built on those past relationships.
Chaperone and Mexico-born citizen Sergio Arreguin attended for the second year and helped a lot with translating. “There’s a dramatic difference in the way we approach people between here and there,” Arreguin said. “(In Mexico), they aren’t afraid of us to hold kids. (In the U.S.), there are a lot of problems with that.”
Arreguin and Thomas agreed the students interacted well with the local children.
“Every one of these kids had a loving relationship with a (Mexican) kid without ever sharing words,” Thomas said. “They had a great connection with the kids,” Arreguin said. “Children asked if they could stay longer.”
Calvary teen Allison Little Dog went for a third year and said the main reason she goes is to interact with the children.
“I’ve been home a week and I miss them like crazy,” Little Dog said.
She liked interacting with attendees from five other U.S. churches. In total, 116 people helped with biblical programming and projects.
Thomas said students easily broke down perceived walls – giving up showers and other American privileges. Students gave out basic necessities like pillows, soccer balls and color crayons.
“Here, we take it for granted but there anything you give them they appreciate,” Arreguin said.
He said students were taught to forget their mindsets of “being of the world” and learn to be servants for others. “It’s amazing how God uses us, so long as you want to be used by him,” Arreguin said.
He felt the greatest impact among the children was simply being there and showing them that God loves them.
During their fundraising for the trip, students were well aware of the Japanese tsunami tragedy and decided to donate one fundraiser to the relief effort.
Students plan to continue fundraising for future trips and projects.
Calvary Chapel Sequim, 91 S. Boyce Road, can be reached at 683-5995 and visited online at www.calvarychapelsequim.com.