Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mexicali: the trip in a nutshell

Anyone reading my posts over the last month or so knows that over Easter Break (thats my rebellion to the p.c. culture and the title "spring break") I'm heading down to Mexicali with the high school group from our church. Azusa Pacific University has a Mexico Outreach program that has been around for years. Annually, the week before and the week after Easter, a cow field in Mexicali is occupied by the tents of a couple thousand high school students and adults. We are heading down the day before Easter, and spending the entire week loving on the people in some darkened communities of the "suburbs" of Mexicali. Our mornings begin with blaring music from the over-head speakers, a trip-roll of toilet paper in hand-to the banos, grabbing breakfast from the kitchen (usually muffins and cereal for me), brushing our teeth and washing our faces from the water jugs perched on the edge of a table which straddles a 6 foot deep hole in the ground. That's right folks! No running water, no real bathrooms. Sleeping in tents, in the dirt. If you're lucky, you won't be the one with the tent right next to the "spit pit," if you're not, you're awake with the earliest in your camp. For some of the OC high school students, it's a trip of total sacrifice of comfort (and thats all they can think about), for some it's an eye-opener as to the fact that not everyone thinks that staying at a Motel 6 is "roughing it," for others it's a chance to make a difference in the world...but for everyone it is a trip that changes their lives. Regardless of the varietal expectations previously conjured up in the minds of the attendees, each individual comes home with a fresh perspective on their lives, and feeling of humility when it's realized how much a good, long, hot shower actually means.

Here's the breakdown...
We head south out of OC and across the border to Mexico...thankfully, when we get there our tents have been set up and our camp-grounds staked out by the fabulous "tent crew" that preceeds our arrival. We settle in and have an evening of adjusting to the camping lifestyle...

In the morning, after an inspiring chapel service we are ready to roll out and conquer the world for Jesus! Or at least our villages. We pile into our vans, head to our respective villages, and begin the day. VBS and crafts with the kids in the villages, Bible Studies with the adults, and just spending time ministering to, and loving on the people who occupy these areas are our main goals. Endless games of soccer, and tag are played, hours of jumping rope and giving piggyback rides are to be had. Each of the students usually bonds (specifically) with one or two of the children in their village, making goodbyes at the end of the week tearful, and heartwrenching. Often, at some point in the week, we have a meal with the people in our village. Inevitably there is a night, or morning, church service held by the village in which your days are spent. We leave our villages late in the afternoon, with the hope of stopping at WalMart (or better yet, the showers) before needing to get back to camp in time for dinner. Another inspiring chapel service is held, and after a little time of whole team bonding, we hit the hay, or should I say, dirt. Our chapels consist of a praise team that leads us in worship, and a speaker who twice daily reminds us of the love our Savior has for us, and in turn the love we need to bestow upon others. (granted, depending on the year, and the speaker this message is slightly altered...but you get the idea.) Honestly, however good and inspiring, they are difficult to sit through. The morning chapels happen after breakfast and most years it's already getting ridiculously hot when you're sitting in a beach chair under the open sun. The night chapels happen after dinner...and while I definitely always look forward to them, you're tired from a long day, and sometimes, it's all you can do to not fall asleep! The week is long, and dirty, and physically exhausting, but there is not one thing I would change about it.

This year, we are taking about 110 people with RDFC...about 20 of those are adult leaders and translators. The remaining 80-ish are students who have given up their week-long respite from the stresses of student life to serve Christ in another country. We divide up the entire group into 2 drama teams, and send about 15 people to each of our villages. It is truly a life-changing experience. All four years I was in high school, this was not only the means by which I earned my community service hours, but also- and much more importantly- the week when I was reminded how blessed I am. I looked forward to helping change the lives of the people in Mexico, of course, but beyond that I looked forward to the people of my village helping to change my life. I know that sounds selfish, and perhaps, on some levels it is. But honestly, I would come home from Mexicali with a renewed sense of appreciation for what I have been blessed with and the reminder that what I felt entitled to was not the reality.

This year, I am a leader. I'm not going to's intimidating! There are 12 students on my team, and I'm partially in charge! I don't think I'm necessarily a spiritual leader, I'm not THAT much older than them, I don't even know that I'll have all the answers to these kids questions! But I am willing to try! Thankfully, Jeff Bell is the other leader on our team. He is an incredible man of God, and I am so very excited to be spending time learning from his leadership skills! I have known Jeff since I was in elementary school when he was a youth pastor at a local church...which my best friend's family attended. I babysat for his kids when I was in high school, and am good friends with his eldest daughter who is now a sophomore in high school. Jeff and his wife, Heidi, are on staff at Royal Servants which is a student missions organization. He has 20+ years of student ministry under his belt, and I am so stoked to doing ministry with him! Our team is headed to Loma-Linda Church. I have not yet been there on a team, but am looking forward to it nonetheless. In the coming days I will introduce you to my team members individually, and have specific prayer requests for our trip. In the meantime, would you pray for cohesiveness on the team? As with all teams, each in our group comes from a different walk of life, it would be wonderful if we could bond over the simple fact that we all love the Lord! :) Thank you!

I do believe, however, that I have given you quite enough material to read for tonight. So, sleep sweetly world...more to come tomorrow!


Lauren said...

Britt i will definitely be praying for you and your team and also that God will prepare not only your teams hearts, but the hearts that you will be speaking to. That their minds will be open and that language will not be a communication barrier. Love ya, Lo

chris lazo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chris lazo said...

Right on Brittany!
I've been on four of those trips, and they're gnarly, as you already know.
Praying for you friend.


KATIE said...

And how are they to believe in Him [adhere to, trust in, and rely upon Him] of Whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? Romans 10:14

Thanks for going even beyond!!!