Taya Loban, left, and Elizabeth Kleinsasser, right, share a moment with one of the young girls from the Mexican village.
Fifteen Mount Olivet Church youth members and five chaperones recently returned from a mission trip to Mexico. The group included, front, Ambria Loban, Kent Schneider, Adele Van Zee, Sarah Tschetter, Courtney Decker, Taya Loban, Alison Kleinsasser, Paul Hetle and Elizabeth Kleinsasser, and in back, Ryan Hofer, Mandy Robish, Sara Schneider, Tyler Van Zee, Tanner Langbehn, Jay Wipf, Justin Nihart, Drew Schneider, Mallory Walter, Steph Hofer and Lisa Schneider.
Without hesitation, the 15 youth members of Mount Olivet Church who recently returned from a mission trip to Mexico indicated they would go again if the opportunity arises.
The 15 youth and five adult chaperones left Huron on June 28, headed for Matamoros, Mexico. They returned home on July 6.
The first day of the trip was spent in Padra Island in Texas where they spent the day on the beach.
Kent Schneider, one of the adult chaperones, said he went on a similar trip three years ago with nine high school students and four adults. They ended up in the same place and did many of the same things this group did.
But before they could take the trip this time, the group had to raise $23,000 that they did over a nine-month period. To raise that much, the group held numerous fundraisers in the church.
The trip was coordinated with Adventures in Missions of Atlanta, Ga.
Schneider said the Georgia group made all of the arrangements including transportation, lodging and what church they would be working with.
One of the projects the students did was “door-to-door evangelism.”
Schneider said they also did some sports evangelism. “We would walk down the street and ask the kids if they wanted to play soccer with us,” he said. “When the kids started to follow, we went to the nearest park.”
After the game, the Huron youth shared scripture readings with the Mexican children and prayed with them.
The male members of the group spent time in a detention center. They visited with the inmates and read scripture. The entire group conducted a vacation Bible school at the church. An estimated 13 to 20 young people attended.
They also conducted an open-air service on Sunday and another service in a sports complex.
The vacation Bible school was held daily for two hours over a four-day period. Another project they carried out was called “living water.”
Ryan Hofer, one of the youth members, said they went to the park and handed out water to the people. “We would try to strike up a conversation with them,” he said, “talking about spiritual things.”
Mallory Walter, another youth member, added: “We gave the water with the intent of sharing the gospel with them.”
The female members visited an orphanage while in Mexico. “We did some of the chores they had left,” Adele Van Zee said, “such as the dishes and folding clothes.”
“After that we played games with the kids,” she said. “We ended up letting them put nail polish on us.”
At the orphanage they visited 25 kids, although most of them are not true orphans. Most of them have one or two parents. But they are so poor they can’t afford to keep them all the time and take them to the orphanage.
An eye-opening trip for the young people was to the dump-ground.
“Many people live at the dump,” Walter said. “We help them collect bottles and gave the bottles to them to help with expenses.”
Alison Kleinsasser said one girl was marking her fourth birthday that day “and we played with her.”
She also commented that as they were leaving the dump-ground, a truck pulled up and emptied garbage from a grocery store.
“Immediately the families were going through the dumped food,” she said.
“That was tough to watch,” Van Zee said. “We were there for only 45 minutes, but took coolers of water and handed them out.”
When asked what they learned from the trip, Walter said: “They were very receptive to talk to you about anything — family, church, past experiences.”
Van Zee added: “It made you see your own life through different eyes.”
”You realize how spoiled and materialistic you are,” she said. “Most of the people had nothing, but they had time for us.”
Taya Loban said the trip made her realize “we American are very spoiled” and Tyler Van Zee added: “The people down there are more friendly than people in America.’
Mandy Robish said people in town “worked hard for everything they had.”
And, Sarah Tschetter said “the Hispanics are very hospitable.”
“They will ask you to come into their home, sit down and talk,” she said.
Paul Hetle, one of the chaperones, said Mexicans “truly believe that God will answer prayers.”
Schneider said they also learned about the power of prayer.
Keith Van Zee, son of Adele and Tyler’s brother, was ill and unable to make the trip. “We spent a lot of time in prayer for Adele and Tyler and saw how God answers prayers.”
He also said the flight was delayed and that gave them an opportunity to minister to the people in the terminal.
“One guy saw we had a guitar and asked us to sing with him,” he said. “We sat near one of the gates and sang a number of spiritual songs.”
Schneider also complimented the students for the way they conducted themselves on the trip.
Of the young people, he said: “They were obedient, respectful and took their job of ministry very serious.”
Walter summed up the feelings of many by saying: “We went down there to minister to others and as it turned out we were the ones being ministered to.”
When asked if they plan to make another trip, Schneider said: “If God opens the doors and leads us we probably would go again.”
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