Archived Story

Bethel’s mission to Mexico brings more than expected

Published 11:02am Thursday, April 25, 2013

They leave expecting just to give, but receive so much more by the time they return.

Bethel Lutheran Church is sending a group of 16 parishioners to Ensenada, Mexico for the sixth time in the past seven years. The purpose of the week long mission trip is to build a house for one family in the poor working community. But according to Bethel member Doug Thorson, who helped organize the first mission, the trip means more to the church than just the help they provide.

“The mission part is not just to build the house, but primarily about introducing them to Jesus,” Thorson said. “It’s an exciting event for the people there. It’s a poor community and there is not much going on because they work all the time and don’t have much of anything.”

Thorson brought the idea to the church after going with a different group seven years ago. Over time, the trip has grown and a number of Bethel members, ages 8 to 85, participate each year. The wide range of participants is something that Thorson said makes the trip so special.

“For the adults, the older we get the more shocking it is to see how other people live,” Thorson said. “But when older people go, they get to say to themselves, ‘Wow, I still made a difference and I’m so many years old.’”

The youth have a similar experience, but Thorson said they take to the community rather quickly.

“When they’re younger, they seem to assimilate easily,” Thorson said. “They can’t speak the language, but they’re out playing soccer with the kids. They just get it, and that brings more to their experience of helping.”

Over the week, the group spends a majority of their time building the new home. While it is certainly not luxurious, the house provides shelter for a family that would otherwise live in a makeshift structure less than half the size of the new one. Those families often consist of several people.

While Thorson said they could build the house in a couple days, the extra time is spent with the local church and helping at a nearby orphanage. That allows for a better connection with the community, both personally and spiritually. That connection is what makes the trip so powerful.

“Personally, I know I now that part of my Christian family is in Mexico,” Thorson said. “You get to know these people and they become part of your life.”

Participants pay for the trip on their own, but raise $6,900 for the materials they use to build the home. To help with the cost, they will host a free taco meal and silent auction on Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m at Bethel Church. Bidding for the auction began last Sunday and will continue through to the end of the event.

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