By Brandon HENSLEY
Montrose Church has been mission-minded for years, reaching out to places like L.A.’s Skid Row and the Tenderloin District in San Francisco.
But its members have also been active beyond the borders of the U.S. and for the fourth year in a row, Montrose Church team members will head south this weekend to Santa Cruz, Bolivia to help a church and its people, and also get something in return.
“The folks down there are amazing people that are always joyful and full of hope,” said Life groups Pastor Chris Sikorowski, who will be going for the second time. “They bless us as much as we bless them.”
The 10-day trip will have 16 team members, ranging from ages 13 to 65, leaving Saturday morning. The flight, which includes a stop in Panama City, will take about 14 hours.
And then it’s time to get to work. Montrose Church has partnered with Santa Cruz’s Luz Divina (The Divine Light) annually to help with its infrastructure. This year Sikorowski said plans include building a parsonage as well as classrooms.
“We re-evaluate year by year what their needs are. At this point, there’s always something to do down there,” Sikorowski said.
Montrose members will also take part in community activities. They’ll play soccer and basketball with the people, hold a vacation Bible school for the kids, and Sikorowski said local medical students will be available to give checkups.
Santa Cruz is one of the poorest regions in Latin America, and Montrose Church looks to places like that to provide support.
“They’re so in need,” Sikorowski said. “Montrose is committed to mission, and committed to our brothers and sisters down there in Santa Cruz.”
Spiritually speaking, though, it’s a different story.
“[It’s really about] going down there and seeing how much joy these people have,” Sikorowski said. “They have very little but, spiritually speaking, they’re very rich in spirit, and it’s inspiring to see people having [few material things] left while still being spiritually fulfilled … it’s a learning experience.”
It takes a big commitment from every person in Montrose to sign up for the trip. The church begins seeking people for the next year almost immediately after the trip is over to have enough time to pray over it. Financially, it costs $2,500 for each person to travel to Bolivia, and fundraisers are held to offset the cost, including one several months ago that raised about $6,000.
Last year, Montrose Church set up a blog on its website allowing each team member to give his or her own perspective on the trip as it was unfolding. The blog also included numerous photos of the work being done.
Sikorowski said something similar will most likely be done this time. To keep up on the mission from Saturday to July 30, visit montrosechurch.org.