I had the privilege of being a chaperone for the second year in a row on the Missions Mexico trip. I was excited to have the opportunity to go down for the second time and to take on a few more responsibilities.
Since the trip last year, I have been thinking and questioning about the benefits of short-term missions trips. I grew up as a missionary kid in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. My family lived there for 8 years and part of our role was to host different short-term teams that came to visit the country. We would often shake our heads and laugh as the different groups (typically North American) came through and continually made cultural faux pas and fumbled their way around the city. These memories and other overseas experiences have made me doubt whether a group of privileged people from another country swooping in briefly to try to provide help is really the right way to go about things.
As I headed down to Mexico this year, my questions and doubts were at the forefront of my mind. Are we helping this community? Are we contributing to a sustainable future? Do we have a positive relationship with the community? I’m not going to say that all my questions were answered or that I have no more doubts, but I did come away with a sense of hope and excitement about PCS’s involvement in the community of Las Aves. My hope particularly came from my interactions with the local pastor and hearing the vision he has for the community.
PCS has been working in the community of Las Aves for many years now. This community is made up of indigenous Mexican people, most of whom work on the large American-owned farms in the area. These are the farms that often provide Americans and Canadians with low-cost fruits and vegetables. These low costs, however, do come at a cost for the Mexican people who work long hours for low wages. The traditional way of life for the people of Las Aves typically involves having many children. It is not unusual for young women of 17 (the age of the students on our trip) to already have two or three children. It is a great challenge – sometimes an impossibility – for the families to provide adequate nutrition for the children or to afford to provide an education for them. Under these circumstances, the cycle of poverty seems likely to continue. On this trip, though, I felt much hope as I heard the vision of the local pastor, who leads a congregation out of the church that PCS built in 2015.
On the last night we were there, the pastor gave a dedication service for the new youth center we had just constructed beside the church. He spoke about how he wanted to preach the Gospel, and also to educate the parents and the children in order to provide hope for a better future. He told us about the different organizations that are involved with the community. There is an after-school children’s program put on by a Christian organization called Oasis. In the near future, three interns from a nearby Bible School are coming to help out in the community (PCS’s other project on this trip was to build a house in which the interns will stay). The interns will start a church youth group, host music classes, and teach literacy for both kids and adults.
It was exciting to hear about these plans for the community and I was able to see how PCS can come alongside the pastor and help him as he invests time and energy into the community. As we think about next year, I am looking forward to strengthening the relationship we have with the pastor and finding ways in which we can continue to support the congregation as they serve the community.
Submitted by Ms Becky Horton