Thirty-four members of the congregation of the Grace Baptist Church in White Salmon traveled to Tecate, Mexico on a service and cultural immersion trip to build a home for a family in need. The members ranged in ages from 15-68 years old. (submitted photo)
As of Wednesday, April 25, 2018
“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” -Winston Churchill
Roughly 34 members of the Grace Baptist Church (GBC) congregation in White Salmon, ranging in ages from 15 to 68 years old, spent 10 days in Tecate, Mexico building a residence for a homeless family.
Acting as the leading organization, and in partnership with Amor Ministries and Horizon Christian School of Hood River, Grace Baptist and its volunteers traveled to Tecate, on the border between California and Mexico. They also spent that time learning about the impact of the immigration crisis and having spiritual discussions on the project they were working on.
“The trip has a dual purpose of a service or mission type project and a cultural immersion trip because you are working directly with the family in their community. It’s also a personal growth experience for those that volunteer,” said Austin Bell, a member of the CBC congregation and one of the leaders on the trip.
“A lot of the people who volunteer to go on these trips do not know each other. So, they spend the travel time getting to know each other and sharing their stories, which is something we encourage. By the time they come back, it’s like one big party and everyone is feeling like a sense of team spirit because they’ve had this amazing experience together,” said Bell.
While the trip is not specifically geared toward kids and young people, it tends to be mostly young people and at least one of their parents who volunteer for the trip.
“That’s the age group that tends to show up and volunteer for it. It happens around the time that Washington kids are out of school for spring break, so it makes sense. Sometimes, we will have some kids from Oregon schools come as well, especially kids from Horizon Christian School. They spend part of their time doing school work to make up for the school they are missing,” said Bell.
The minimum age requirement for a volunteer is 15. Those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
“This year we had about 25 kids and 10 adults,” said Bell.
This is the third time Bell and his family have participated in a trip. He says what makes this trip different from others is you can go back and see how the families’ lives have improved since having a home built.
“We went back and talked to families we had built homes for and you can see just how much having a place to call home has improved their lives. Many families have even added on to their homes because they now have that skill set,” said Bell.
“On a personal level this is the most spiritual and informational service trip I have been on and I see that in the folks who volunteer. One guy that came back said it was like a reboot on what’s really important,” said Bell.
Another thing that this trip does is quell some fears for folks about the country of Mexico and its people.
“We meet a lot of people down there who are impacted or who have been impacted by the immigration system in the states. We have our own conversations on it as well. I know a few people who have gone on this trip and their perspective of the system and the narrative that is so pervasive on the topic has changed some because they have met people impacted by it,” said Bell.