Every other year, in the ministry of LH.youth - this season comes, and it seems to come exceedingly fast. Team Mexico is happening once again.
I cannot help but remember past trips, and long for similar experiences, namely, watching our students grab hold of the promises that God has laid out for them - that He will be their God, and that they will be His people.
I'll be honest with you - aside from seeing the Lord work in the missionaries at the YWAM base that we partner with, my reason behind putting all this effort into organizing these trips is seeing spiritual transformative (i.e. growth) change in our students! I'm already praying that the Lord will build this team with youth and leaders of His choosing, for His purposes - which is growth of His Kingdom, right here on earth - both in San Antonio Del Mar, and Abbotsford.
We've got just a few details to sort out, but from this vantage point - we're set for this:
- Registration to open Sunday, May 22, 2016
- Registration deadline on Sunday, July 3, 2016
- Team to be determined and announced before July 10, 2016
Once we're all trained, and prepared to go, we'll be heading south on Thursday, March 9, 2017 (at 4.30am), and then arriving home on Sunday, March 19, 2017 (around midnight).
Here's my introduction from the Registration:
Next year, on Thursday, March 9th – just two days before spring break (for ACS) begins – our team will meet up at the church – at some ridiculous early hour. Many will arrive with a very mixed bag of feelings and emotions. Exhausted and confused from getting up at 3.00am (and after going to bed a 9.00pm, you only slept 22½ minutes). Excited to embark on this trip with this team. Nervous because you’re leaving home (maybe for the first time) for this long. Apprehensive because you still are not sure what to expect. Angry because you’re still battling with a choice that may have been made for you. No matter the emotion, we’re all here, and ready to go.
There, we will do final checks. Bags? Pillow? Passport? Medical insurance card? We’ll board the bus sometime around 5.30am, and start a 2300 kilometer journey south. We’ll arrive at the AMTRAK station in Seattle a little around 8.30am, with plenty of time to explore the station, go for a walk to Starbucks. We’ll board the train first, getting the very back car (been that way four times … so I expect the same). We’ll battle over window seats, and put our pillows and snacks in the storage area above. We’ll see just how good the train will be. We’ll be there for the next two days. It had better be good (and trust me – it is, I’ve done it a few times!).
Around 9.50am, the soon-to-be-all-to-familiar gentle rocking will begin. We’ll see a few sites roll by, we’ll hear the whistle blow, and the next leg of our journey has begun. We’re curious. We’re nervous. We’re excited. We chat with our friends, and we relax with a book. Some will catch up with homework, and others will make new friends. As the train rattles into the hills and mountains of central Oregon, the day light fades, and the lights of the train go dim. We urge you to sleep, lulling yourself there with your own mix of awkward discomfort and tunes in your ears (yup – there’s power there by every seat).
Then morning comes. We’ve been in California for a few hours, and we begin to see the sun to our left, rising over the industrial parks. The day goes by. We talk. We play cards. We take pictures. We laugh, and maybe even sing. We are certainly having a good time. We’re enjoying life in this community. It’s a little cramped quarters, but it’s begun to be familiar, we’ve grown used to it. Now its time to see some amazing scenery. That afternoon, we’ll be approaching the coast of California – we can see the surf (and surfers) out the one side, and out the other, endless rolling hills of green – and the odd cow. It’s really stunning to see God’s beautiful creation in this way.
It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve been on this train. We start getting a little cabin-feverish. But then, the announcement comes – it’s around 9.00pm. We’ve arrived in Los Angeles. We hop of the train, head into the station. Get some subway, load up on some Starbucks. 10.30pm comes, and we hop on a commuter train, and head towards San Diego. We get there at 1.00am. You think you were tired and exhausted yesterday morning?!? Well, look in the mirror now. You’re beyond tired. You’re beyond exhausted. But yet, in that moment – you’re feeling the warm air, you’re feeling just that much closer to being in Mexico – serving the community we’re coming to serve. There’s this element of joy and hope that you feel.
We wait for our drivers from YWAM to pick us up. All of us who’ve been there before, are hoping to see Andy. Others are looking for Jeana, and others, Mark. They arrive, we load into their vans. A very quick ride later, we’re at the border. We’re silent. It’s a crap-shoot. Green light? Red light? Head on right through? Or go for secondary screening? (we’re praying for a green light). Depending on the light, we will arrive at the base between 2.00 and 4.00am. Maybe even later. We get to the base, get our room keys, not even noticing the location where we are. Our bodies fall fast asleep before our heads hit the pillows.
Our alarms prepare us to meet for brunch and some initial training. We awake to see a tremendous location, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We’re here, and we’ve begun. We’re already learning and seeing what the Lord has called us to do. We’re called to GO. We’ve done that. We’re here. We’re ready. BRING IT ON!!!
The week goes by, we do a ton. We build a house. We play with endless kids. We hear tons of stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness. We play endless soccer and eat endless tacos. Feel the presence of God pulling on our hearts day in and day out. Grow closer as a team, as individuals, as friends. Grow deeper in faith. We’re striving to be the Light of Christ in every place we go.
By the grace of God, we’ve come to the end of the week. We’re tired, but that doesn’t seem to matter. We’re emotionally drained, but that too, has little to no importance. Our anxieties left a long time ago. Our nervousness has skirted away. We’ve seen and done things we never thought we could see or do.
Then it all comes to an end. Saturday morning, arrives all too soon. We pack up and start our journey home. We’re longing to see our families and friends to tell them all we did, all we experienced, and all we’ve grown. We’re seeing life a little differently now. Our perspectives have grown. We no longer feel like we’re alone in this world in our grand city of Abbotsford.
We will have gained story after story of God’s goodness in our lives.
We will have experienced God’s peace in so many ways … we will not know how to say it all.
We will have given God so much of us; we will be looking for ways to do the same things at home.
We will be strengthened for a lifetime of serving an amazing God who created and sustains us.
And it’s just going to be plain awesome. I’m excited already! I hope you are as well.
But this all just doesn’t happen in our sleep. These things take much time and preparation, so we will prepare – and meet up a lot! There are costs involved. Much costs. Given the state of our Canadian dollar, against the American buck (all costs for YWAM and travel are paid in American funds), the overall cost of the trip for each individual will be in the neighborhood of $1,200-1,500. Our community of Living Hope, trip after trip, continues to be an amazing support, so fundraising is done, and we work hard to earn the donated money we get. However, we do not expect our community to pick up the whole price tag. Each student must hand in this registration with a deposit of $300.00 and each student MUST take part in as many fundraising opportunities as possible, or else, they will be handed a final bill before departure.
Registrations without the deposit will not be accepted, which may result in you not being a part of the team. Cheques should be made out to “Living Hope Youth.” This money will be applied towards your account and final payment. If a youth is not asked to be a part of the team the deposit will be refunded. Once accepted onto the team, the deposit is non-refundable. (Of course there are certain circumstances that will allow a refund – but let’s hope we don’t have to go there.) If you cannot commit to making the deposit, but still deeply desire to be a part of this trip – I encourage you to be honest and approach me with this; I assure you that there are solutions – we have found them before, and will find them again!
After completing and turning in this registration, due no later than July 3, 2016, you may be asked to be met with for an interview before final acceptance is made. Each registrant will be called and given the final word as to the status of their application during that following week. Please read through this entire application in complete detail, and make sure that you are aware of all deadlines and requirements, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.
Finally, I want to convey the absolute need for the highest level of commitment to this team, should you join it. Every training/preparation meeting must be attended to get the most out of this entire experience.
During our preparation for the trip, and more importantly during the trip, we’ll keep a running blog of our activities. You can find it here: http://lhyouthmexico.blogspot.ca/, there you can read about our previous trips in 2013 and 2015.
Thank-you, and may God Bless you in and through this registration!!
Adam Van Dop