Spring break is time to serve
Spring break in Mexico. For many, spring break conjures visions of raucous noise, excessive drinking and wild partying. But for 40 students from Faith Christian High School, images of smiling children, green pop-up tents and laughter-filled car rides defined their spring break in Mexico — specifically, Chiapas, Mexico.
For more than 30 years, Henry Herrera, Spanish and Bible teacher at FCHS, has led a successful weeklong mission trip to Mexico each spring. This year was no exception.
Beginning in February, students met every Sunday to prepare for the trip. They fundraised, reviewed songs in Spanish and developed the curriculum for VBS, or vacation Bible school.
On April 15, car assignments were passed out and bags were loaded into trucks as FCHS students began the eight-hour trek to Azuza Pacific University in Southern California. There, they spent the night and continued on their travels the following morning, crossing the border into Mexicali.
In Chiapas, they joined 1,100 other young people who came to serve and minister in Mexico. Faith Christian's group divided into three groups to serve at three different churches over the course of the week, putting all the students' time, effort and ability into serving the children in the area. They made crafts with the kids, played multiple rounds of jump rope and, for the more athletic girls and guys, enjoyed games of soccer.
The trip wasn't simply about helping the Mexican children. It was about loving on them.
There were, of course, language barriers, but the translators — which included several students, parents and Mr. Herrera — were great. As junior Lacy Bicknell said, "With kids, you don't need to speak their language. Playing with and holding them is enough." Simply put, love passes through all barriers.
The main focus and excitement of the trip was the children. Students form bonds with the kids as they play games, sing songs in church and learn Bible stories in VBS. Returning students are always surprised, and amazed, that the girls and boys whom they spent a single week with a year earlier will remember them the following spring. The impact these dedicated students can have on a child is more than temporary. It's a long-term friendship.
Spencer Iskikian, a junior, said that his favorite part was seeing the impact the students' ministry had on not only the children, but on the adults in Mexico as well. "It's our goal to help them in their walk with the Lord," he said. "But, in the end, it's they who help us."
Senior Alejandro Lopez and junior Blake Lavin both agreed that their favorite memory was visiting the prison. "We played basketball and ate with the prisoners. We got a chance to get to know them and hear their stories," Alejandro said, who went for his fourth and final year on the mission trip.
The students bonded with both the kids and adults in Mexico. They served. They helped. And, greatest of all, they realized the importance giving something that will outlive the short amount of time you are in a place.
"The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it," William James once said. Isn't that what love and friendship do?
Courtney Taylor is a junior at Faith Christian High School. This is her final column for Education.