South of the border
Teenager Bethany Pawlik was moved by what she experienced on a trip to Mexico with CrossRoads Church.
She saw a child dying of leukemia in a Mexican orphanage, and found a quiet place on the playground to pray for him. Another of the boys in the orphanage sat by her. She held onto his hand while she prayed.
"It was so powerful," she said in an interview last week. "We have nothing in common except God's love."
Though some of the students from CrossRoads Church in Cottage Grove speak Spanish, many of the orphan children spoke a rural language their interpreter didn't know.
"You don't need words," Pawlik said. "You find a way to communicate God's love to these children."
Thirty teens and six adults, including James Ravine, senior high pastor, left on a mission to a rural Mexican town on the Baja peninsula July 12 and returned July 19.
Their link to the mission is Rev. John Rose in Chula Vista, Calif., near San Diego. His church raises money to construct houses and orphanage-associated projects.
The local CrossRoads church was the first to go to the village and build a home for 16 people who were living under a tarp.
"You can build a home for $3,300," Racine said, adding the village does not have any municipal facilities, so plumbing is not needed.
The teens did siding, roofing and painting. They also installed patio pavers. "That was really hard," said Ashley Chelmo, who serves on the church's youth leadership team.
Among the rules set forth by Racine before the trip was that each youth was allowed one duffle bag. He banned iPods.
Chelmo, who did not bring a music player, said not having it didn't affect her.
"I was so tired at the end of the day, I just wanted to go to bed," she said.
The teens also held vacation Bible school for area children.
"We played with the kids, sang songs and did crafts," Chelmo said. "You see how happy they are and they have nothing. A lot of people have so much and think they need more."
"I would go again in a heartbeat," she said.
That sentiment is shared by the other teens on the trip including Dallas Campbell.
He, too, was surprised at how happy the children were with so few material goods.
"They needed attention," he said. "They loved having us there."
Memories of the trip linger in the teens and they are sharing their experiences in weekly youth gatherings and will be sharing with the congregation as well, Racine said.
Chelmo said she intends to do mission work in the future.
Pawlik is slated to go to Africa in January for six months. "I want to go to other countries and show God's love," she said.
Judy Spooner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.