When I was a sophomore at Hercules High Middle High School in March of 2008, I was allowed to go to the Mexico Outreach program in MexiCali with my previous school, El Sobrante Christian. I was excited. I mean, who wouldn’t be? Going on a road trip across the border into another country with your old school friends, it’s like you never left! I was lucky enough to have been in Spanish 2 at the time, so I knew I’d be able to get by without getting lost, or not being able to understand the natives completely.
Honestly, I felt a little surprised with myself. It was my sixteen birthday, also known as “Sweet Sixteen”, and I was spending it in a van on my way to Azusa Pacific, to spend a night in their spare classrooms before we headed across the border. Usually, a girl would have planned out her birthday party down to a science to make sure that all their plans created the best party ever. I guess I’m just different that way.
Once we got to Cuernavaca, MexiCali, I was surprised. We were getting assistance from other high schools and youth groups for putting up our tents on a dirt lot. Now if that did not sum up how our lifestyle just changed, I’ll elaborate. Instead of “restrooms” or “bathrooms”, we had port a potty’s and a “once a week” shower area, with the occasional stray dog or two. Needless to say, I didn’t mind in the least. (Well, I did mind about my allergies to all the pollen and dust.)
But the most memorable part, was going to the church. There was this church that was literally just starting up in every way imaginable. The church building was still being built- the roof, insulation, the floor, doors, etc. and the church was still growing. They were trying to reach the neighborhood children to join their youth group. Who better to get other kids to join than teens themselves?Especially American teenagers that one can laugh with because their Spanish isn’t perfect?
Asking children to join, being taught spanish, playing with them, eating food that the neighborhood ladies would make for us with them, meeting their families, giving and getting gifts, and taking pictures are some things that I’ll always treasure. We even did community service at a local zoo (my pants still have the “firebrick” red paint on the pockets). I would give anything to go back and see how the church is doing, and how the neighborhood kids are doing. I remember Jesus, Martin, Bianca, and Isais the most. They taught me soccer and how to count in Spanish really fast, and I taught them volleyball and a little English. It was a fair trade over all.
Even though I am a senior in high school now, I would love to go back to MexiCali and see the church. See if they ever got a porch or a full roof, if their was a recreational side area, or just grass, instead of a dirt lot with glass and fences with barb wire. If the children who had grown up even remember me, even if it’s faint. I don’t what it is, but I never forget that week I spent in MexiCali. All I can do is wonder and wait, until the next time.
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