By Brandon HENSLEY
It takes a lot for students to go on a mission trip, and this spring students from middle and high school took their time and money to help others in different places.
Members of La Crescenta Presbyterian Church set out on a mission from April 7 to April 14 to the Dominican Republic for Project Dominicana. There were 46 people involved, which included 20 students, mostly from CV High School. All participants paid for their trip out of their own pockets or through personal fundraising, according to Mary Wilson, one of the team leaders.
Since 2005 the church has been partnering with the Baraca Church in Kilometer 6, a poor barrio outside of La Romana, Dominican Republic. The neighborhood of Kilometer 6 consists of Haitian and Dominican poor, many of whom are in transition from life on the nearby sugar cane plantations to life in the city of La Romana, said Wilson.
“During this year’s trip, we continued to work on the construction of the second floor of the school, and we also conducted a teachers workshop for the teachers at the school,” said Wilson, who has been coordinating the trek for LCPC for 10 years.
Three teachers from the Glendale Unified School District participated in the worksh op.
The construction team was made up of adults and youth from the Crescenta Valley.
“They learn the fulfillment found in giving, the dignity of manual labor, and [have the chance to] explore the knotty issues surrounding poverty,” said Wilson of her team. “Finally they learn that one person can make a difference.”
While a team was working in the Dominican Republic, another was closer to home. Mission Arizona, which consisted of 37 people, 20 of which were from middle school, helped out at Vah Ki Presbyterian Church on the Gila River Reservation.
“Many of the students had participated in MAZ last year, but we had 13 new kids this year, and six new adult leaders this year, who had never been on the MAZ trip,” said team leader Michele Fernandez.
The team poured new concrete walkways on the campus to replace damaged ones; installed new windows in the church; made a new sign for the entrance of the church campus, and sanded and repainted the wood floors in the Stotonic Presbyterian Church, which is on the same reservation.
“Being an active member in my youth group I decided going on this trip was a great way to give back and grow in my relationship with God,” said student Nicole Marks. “I also went to learn some helpful skills about construction.”
“I love Mission Arizona because I see some kids that come might not exactly know a lot about or be very strong in their faith, and this is a great time for them to grow while being surrounded by loving friends,” said 15-year-old Marina Torres.
“The locals are always so grateful,” said eighth-grader Brandon Emirkhanian. “Most of them were in tears when they saw us working. Helping them out was the best part of the trip. Well, that and the ice-cream truck that stopped by everyday.”