As walls went up to build two homes for families in Tecate, Mexico, walls came down between youths from different cultures.
Twenty-nine teens from the Brentwood Presbyterian Church's young adult ministries and a church in Placerville, CA returned to Los Angeles after building homes for eight people, including a grandmother and four children, as part of its annual Holy Week pilgrimmage for a youth Mexico work camp.
The trip is a whole lot more than just helping house families in Mexico. It's a part of building and nurturing relationships. Brentwood Presbyterian Church has partnered with non-profit organization Amor Ministries for 33 years, going down twice a year with the adult and youth ministry groups to volunteer in different communities, according to Christiana Grolisch, youth and young adult coordinator. It's her 15th year going.
In preparing for the Tecate trip, Grolisch said they talk in class about going across the border with the intentions of knowing what the residents will need to make their lives better.
"One of my favorite moments is when you see kids and adults come to the realization that it's not what we feel they need from us but what those families give to us," she said.
A high school student from Santa Monica told Grolisch they saw Tecate kids ride by on bikes, and they knew each other and were involved in each other's lives. The student admitted there are kids in Santa Monica they've never met.
"These people are more connected with their lives than us, because of our materialistic items, and they see these kids having so much fun living a simplistic life," Grolisch said of the young adult ministry. "I see a transformation of them when they enter and you kind of see God working with their life."
"And a little bit of Mexico comes back with them from the trip," she added.
Amy Klinkovsky, director for youth and young adult ministries at Brentwood Presbyterian Church said the kids annually visit Tecate and Rosarito areas of Mexico, while the adult group goes to El Nino communities.
The young ministry group pays its own registration fee, and since the partnership with Amor Ministries is so strong, Klinkovsky said members of its own congregation in Brentwood are so generous, with some who buy shares on the trip. It keeps the cost at a reasonable rate for the kids.
She said it is a simpler process than Habitat for Humanity, where there is no electricity installation or dry wall. It's just a basic walls and roof to give the families more breathing room, especially when it's children supporting the grandparents.
"I see many kids are hooked and I see them attending more trips," Klinkovsky said. "There are returners that get the same feelings they had on their second or third trip."
For more information on the young adult ministries, visit its website.