CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Caitlin Moore, left, and Lauren Jerde with Grace Lutheran Church work in Gabriel’s Garden on Wednesday at Matt 25 Hope Center.
This year, they struggled to get used to the heat rather than the culture on their annual mission trip.
A youth group from Grace Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Wash., has traveled to the same orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico, for the past 25 years. But this year they are in Clovis.
Director of Youth and Family Ministry John Telyea, or “J.T.,” as he is known to the church youth, said there is a travel warning out about safety concerns in Tijuana. He searched for a Lutheran church to work with and ended up connecting with Trinity Lutheran Church in Clovis
“I just started calling church after church,” Telyea said. “A couple of months ago, we started talking and decided Clovis was the place for us.”
The team of 15 juniors and seniors in high school and five adult sponsors arrived Saturday and have spent the last three days doing work at the church and the Matt 25 Hope Center. Their meals were provided by the Friendship Senior Center.
Part of Wednesday was spent working in the second Gabriel’s Garden at Matt 25.
“Someone told us that the food from this garden can be spread to 70 to 80 families,” Caitlin Moore said.
Moore, 18, is one of five senior girls who went to Mexico last year and came to Clovis this year.
Each of the girls said getting used to the heat, rather than the culture, was the big challenge this year.
“I’ve always enjoyed this. I always enjoy other people and helping,” said senior Abby Phair. “It makes me feel like I’m not selfish.”
Senior Ashley Schulz said she enjoyed the work they did in Mexico.
“This is way more different,” she said. “It’s a new mission to serve Christ.”
Senior Sarah Greene said event though they aren’t working with orphans, they are still doing good.
“The culture is different, the work is different. But for me, it’s not where you are, it’s that you’re still serving,” Greene said.
Pastor Bonita Knox of Trinity Lutheran in Clovis said she was surprised when she got the call.
“I was shocked and was so excited to have this awesome opportunity,” Knox said. “We always want to do local, national, global mission work. This is our opportunity to let the community see us outside the church itself.”