Youth - Mexico - Life
Deep Cove Crier October, 1996 As we crossed the border from San Diego into Mexico the memories of last year flooded back for 14 members of our team, but for another 28, the memories were just beginning. It is hard to explain the feeling when you see rich America on one side of the border and people living in a shanty town on the other side. All that is separating them from paradise is a 12 foot high fence. We saw hundreds of people peering over the fence, wondering what would life be like if only they had been born on the other side.
From August 16-26, 1996, 42 people (36 were under 25) from three different churches, St. Simon's Deep Cove, Sutherland Bible Chapel, and St. John's Shaughnessy, traveled down to a small Medical Clinic just outside of San Quintin, which is about 400 km south of the border on the Baja. The clinic is run by Mexican Medical Ministries. Mexican Medical operates 9 medical clinics in and around the Baja. These clinics are set up to provide medical and dental care, usually free, for the poorest of Mexico's poor. They believe in providing both for the peoples physical needs as well as their spiritual needs. By training local Pastors, conducting Vacation Bible Schools (VBS), door to door and film ministry and supporting local churches, they provide a Christian outreach to people telling them about the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Our group helped in all of these areas. After spending the morning painting, mixing and pouring cement, building forms, and plastering buildings around the clinic site, we headed off to the worker camps.
The worker camp populations range from about 400 to over 4000. The people are Mexican Indians who move from central Mexico to the Baja in hopes of finding work. They move into the camps which are built by the land owners, and live in 10 x 12 foot tin shacks. These are the living, eating, and cooking quarters for a family of 412. They stay in these camps for 3 to 18 months and then move on to another camp. While in the camps, anyone over the age of ten is expected to be in the fields working. For a ten hour day in the fields they make 30 pesos, which is about $3.50 US. To put this into a bit of perspective, a 20 pack of toilet paper is 90 pesos. There are 7 of these camps around the Clinic where we stayed. There are so many positive things that come out of an experience like this one. Most obvious perhaps is that we provide a week of labour to the clinic so they can build up their facilities for the people. We also get a chance to play with the little children, teach them games, songs, crafts, and tell them about Jesus. Second, the young people on the trip get to learn about, and see another culture, a third world culture where many people live under oppression and in extreme poverty.
This is what some of the team members said after being in the camps: "I can't believe how much the children care for their little brothers and sisters. They are always looking out for them"; "Even in their poverty, they share everything"; "I have never seen children and teenagers do so much work"; "neir faith is so strong maybe it is because they have only Jesus to rely on"; "I've learned to appreciate more what I have, especially my family". Finally though, the most significant result of this experience is the way it changes the team members themselves. They have a chance to develop a more global perspective of their lives, a chance to look hard at themselves and the depth of their faith, and to grow because of it.
This experience develops leadership skills, communication skills, and forces them to work hard, probably harder than they have worked before. It develops in them a desire to do missions and service not only in other countries but also here at home. For example, as a result of last years trip, this year the missions team did several local service projects: a blanket drive during our cold winter, an exposure weekend with St. James social services, working with Neighbour Link, visiting Burnaby Youth Custody Facility, a seniors tea, and serving dinner at the Union Gospel Mission. This year we plan to do even more.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank several local businesses that helped us out this year in our fundraising efforts: Taylor Automotive, Ralph's inexpensive Tree Work, Capilano Mall, Mt. Seymour Lions Club, Fawcett Insurance, Action Waste Water, Dr. Barry Yip, Robert Kruse and, Creation Technologies. Thanks also to the many businesses that made donations to our auction.
If you or your group would like to hear more about our trip or have us make a presentation, please contact Ken Bell, the Youth Pastor at St. Simon's church, at 604-980-7521.
Ken Bell, Todd Wiebe & Ed Hird
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St. Simon's Anglican Church
North Vancouver, B.C.