Knowle Parish Church mission trip to Mexico
On the 2nd of July, 16 members of Knowle Parish Church headed to Mexico for mission work and community outreach in the heart of Baja Ensenada. Our trip began following a 22 hour journey from London to Mexico; thoroughly exhausted, we arrived at our accommodation at the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) base in Ensenada, excited for the day ahead.
This 9 day trip saw us encounter people and experience situations which were distinctly different from our own in Knowle: this was evident from the start as we assisted at rehabilitation centres on our first day. We were able to meet young people who had struggled through addiction since childhood, many girls turning to prostitution as a means to fund their addiction. It was apparent that their lives had been greatly affected by their childhood; all the patients had experienced domestic abuse, neglect or drug and alcohol abuse in the family. It was a particularly harrowing experience to hear their testimonies.
The most memorable experience of the trip for me was building a house for an underprivileged Mexican family. For this project, we worked alongside ‘Homes for Hope’, a global organisation seeking to build houses for the most impoverished families around the world. They aim to build 1000 homes every two years and have a significant presence in Ensenada. The house build in itself only took two days; there was a team of dedicated builders and translators there to help us interact with Martha and her family (the recipients of the house), and help us to build a safe and durable building. It was hard work, especially for those working on the roofing for the house in the 40° heat, but we were determined to finish and thus we pushed through any obstacles. The sense of team spirit was prominent for these two days, and the trip as a whole. If nothing else, this experience allowed us to become closer as a youth group and value the relationships we have with our family and friends back home. Martha, and her children Rocio and Fernanda, where overjoyed when presented with their home; it was an emotional moment for all involved, and we felt proud of our work. It truly was one of the best experiences of my life.
In order to buy materials for the house build, we aimed to raise a total of £20,000 and an additional £1500 individually for transport, food and accommodation. This seemed a daunting target when it was first proposed in September; we would have just ten months to raise this large sum. Despite any misgivings, we were all prepared to face this fundraising challenge, and many of us began raising money by gardening, car washing and babysitting in the local community. We also held some large events which raised a considerable amount of money: the ‘On A Mission’ variety show, for example, which showcased everything from singing and dancing to aerial acrobatics in a celebration of the arts, raised approximately £2600 for the trip. Many members of the team also took part in a team fun run, in which they ran the distance from Knowle to London as two members of the team actually cycled to the capital. In the end, we greatly exceeded our target, allowing us to use the remaining money to buy furniture for Martha’s home.
Following the house build, we planned to visit another poverty-stricken area in Mexico: the Tijuana dump. Upon arriving to the dump after a quick lunch in Tijuana, we were overwhelmed by the awful conditions that met us, most noticeably the unpleasant smell. In order to try and meet and pray for as many residents as possible in the dump, we split into three teams and headed off to visit the locals, equipped with fresh fruit and water for them. My group met many inspiring people on our journey despite the desperate and seemingly hopeless situation; Philippe was one such person. As a former drug addict, he found Jesus at a service in the local church which set him on a new path in life. His story left many of us in awe as he told of his commitment to the community, for example using his own money to buy the people in the dump medical supplies. On our final day in Mexico we headed to an education centre called ‘Circulo’ and we spent time with the children in an after-school group, playing with water balloons and putting on interactive plays.
Our once-in-a-lifetime experience in Mexico was one that we will never forget. The people we met will likely stay close to our hearts in years to come, and we cannot wait to see what is in store for our next trip.
Emily Cray – Year 12