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Students spread joy of Easter in Mexico

“Gabucha, gabucha,” the young Mexican children yell as they jump on the backs of high school students who prepare to race up a dry, dirt covered hill for a piggy back marathon during a week long mission trip to Ensenada, Mexico, during April 11-19.

A common way for students to spend their spring break is by piling into vans and traveling to Mexico. Youth groups all over the San Jaoquin Valley choose to take their witnessing skills to a new level and spend time with kids from another culture.

From constructing houses to leading vacation bible schools, many hours are devoted to God’s work through the ministry of students.

“We put on a vacation bible school for the kids and were able to play games with them,” Garret Stipe, ’06, said. “Fortunately we met a girl who was bilingual and came with us to recruit kids for the VBS. This was a great experience and time to connect with the Mexican children.”

God’s love is demonstrated to the Mexican communities through these acts of service. The students often find ways to get to know the children individually through bible studies and outdoor activities.

“As I sat listening to the Mexican Church bible study, ?Tigre’, a three-year-old Mexican child, climbed up onto my lap and fell asleep,” Laura Berg, ’04, said. “Even though I had only known Tigre for a few hours, he trusted me and felt comfortable curled up in my lap as if I was his mother. Through the VBS and women’s bible studies, relationships were built in only a few days. God worked in all of us and his love was shown even through a young child.”

Students admit that one of the best ways for outreach is just spending time with the people. As a way to really connect with the people, students are sometimes given the chance to stay in the homes of Mexican residents.

“I really enjoy going to Mexico because it is an awesome witnessing opportunity and spiritual refresher,” Emily Goertzen, ’04, said. “This year I was able to stay in the home of one of the Mexican residents. Even though there was a language barrier, God provided a way to communicate with them through my actions and smiles.”

High school Spanish classes prove extremely helpful for some while trying to communicate with the Mexican community, but others depend on facial expressions and hand motions to get them by.

Those who have little or no knowledge of the Spanish language also rely greatly on interpreters who are brought along on these trips.

Goertzen admits that she was frequently asking the interpreters how to say certain words in Spanish. They proved very helpful the entire week and allowed the group to communicate with the Mexican people more easily.

Aside from the language barrier, harsh weather conditions prove trying at times and cause groups to change plans and adjust to these new factors.

“The rain was a huge setback and at first put many of us in bad moods,” Jesse Madsen, ’05, said. “It caused us to lose a day of work but God provided for us. Through this struggle we were forced to work together and were able to finish building the house by the end of the week.”

Madsen and students from other teams admit that conditions proved tough at times but God proved faithful and allowed them to accomplish their ministries in Mexico.

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