Students share service in Mexico
Spring break is traditionally a time for students to relax, hang out with friends and sleep in. Not so for a group of 30 students from Faith Christian High School. These kids — freshmen through seniors — instead chose to spend their vacation camping in a tent city in a dirt field in Mexico.
Five days of sleeping in cramped tents on narrow cots, spending their days working in the heat and using baby wipes as a replacement for showers. It's a hard week, utterly opposite to the typical spring break. But the students, including myself, can't get enough of the trip. The Mexico Outreach program is run by Azusa Pacific University in Southern California, and FCHS has been involved for more than 20 years.
Led by Bible and Spanish teacher Henry Herrera, the Mexico team travels to a town called San Luis R.C. in Sonora, Mexico, where they serve at three different churches, running a kids camp in the mornings.
In the afternoons, the students do various projects — cleaning, landscaping and repainting an elementary school; baptizing nine students in one of the Spanish churches; and witnessing to the people in a large park in downtown San Luis.
Each project presented a different challenge — from dealing with more than 30 excited kids per church to digging weeds in the hot sun to using our limited Spanish to speak the gospel of Jesus to the Mexican people — but every challenge was greeted with faith and courage. The FCHS students fell into bed every night exhausted, but woke every morning excited to serve.
I have gone on the trip for the past three years. Each year presented unique challenges and experiences. This year, I was asked to be one of four team leaders, who are all seniors. Our tasks included picking up and making the team's lunches every day, overseeing the various churches' teams and generally overseeing the students.
Being a leader gave me a new perspective on the trip — I had to watch out for and help others instead of simply minding my own responsibilities. It was a great lesson in leadership — as well as a reminder to be a servant rather than being solely concerned with myself.
The Mexico trip is a much loved and highly anticipated part of the school year. According to second-year veteran and sophomore Justin Glen, "My favorite part is seeing and playing with the kids. I love how they immediately love us and treat us like family."
One of this year's newcomers, senior Lauren Heinrich, was initially nervous about going, but quickly fell in love. "From the first day in Mexico, I was already regretting not going in the previous years. It was an amazing experience, and I'll never forget it.
"Not only did I get to share the gospel with and see God move in others, I got to see God move in me and my fellow schoolmates. I'll never forget just how lovable those children were or how accepting the people were," Lauren said.
"My favorite part was witnessing in the park — I got to see an elderly couple accept Jesus, and it was the first time I've gotten to witness something like that," she added.
Elizabeth Andrus is a senior at Faith Christian High School. This is her final column for the Education section.