East LA and Mexico
During Spring break, Bakersfield's First Presbyterian Church loaded up 12 vans with 82 youth and adult missionaries, and traveled 789 miles roundtrip to serve the less fortunate people of East Los Angeles and Tijuana, Mexico.
As part of their annual junior high and senior high school ministries mission trip, the students get to be part of something most kids don't have a chance to experience. "These missions are a tremendous growth opportunity. They get to see God work in ways that they don't see in their own environment," says Caroline Reed, director of missions for First Presbyterian Church.
The senior high team worked with Mt. Sion, a mission in Tijuana, where they built three houses from the foundation up. Separated into four teams, the youth missionaries would learn one aspect of construction such as doors and windows, and then they would com-plete that task for all three houses.
Dino Rustin, director of high school ministries for First Presbyterian Church, says the mission is a different experience for each youth. "For some kids, the thought of hitting nails with a hammer is a scary thought. For some kids, the thought of going a week with only one shower is a scary thought. For some kids, a mission trip – preaching the word of God – is a scary thought," he says. "Each of these kids experienced the trip in different ways and they grow in different ways."
|"...a week with only
one shower is a
In addition to building houses, the senior high students and adult missionaries have built a tremendous relationship with the people of Tijuana. They plan on returning to help Mt. Sion again during next year's Spring break. In June, they will be heading to Argentina for one-on-one mentoring with teens from several churches. This mission is more evangelical in focus, says Rustin.
The junior high team went to Los Angeles and helped serve the homeless population. Working with the Center for Student Missions, the junior high students got to have different experiences working with different missions in the Los Angeles and Long Beach areas.
The junior high team alternates annually serving in Los Angeles and San Francisco. During these missions, they help with different levels of need from serving breakfast to helping with kids in an after-school program.
"For a junior high student, it (the mission) is the realization that there is something they can do to make a difference," says Steve Sherrill, director of junior high ministries for First Presbyterian Church.
|"...there is something they can do to make
Sherrill says one activity in particular helps the youth put their service into perspective. They spend five minutes lying on asphalt at 10:00 at night and try to imagine what that would be like if they had to sleep there every night. "Each year the students come home and realize that no matter how hard they think their life is, they know they have it pretty good," Sherrill says.
In addition to these annual missions, First Presbyterian Church members get to participate in local mini missions and inter-national missions. The members have served many people from all over the world including caring for orphaned babies in Romania, preparing a Christian camp in Albania, and installing stoves in the homes of mountain people in Guatamala. A mission team of local business men also travels to Argentina to teach Christian ethics in business.
For more information about First Presbyterian Church and their missions, please visit www.fpweb.org.