It was still dark at Cross and Crown Lutheran Church Sunday morning. Small huddles of teens readied everything they needed for a weeklong trip to Mexico. Sleeping bag, check. Tent, check. Hammers, check. Nails, check. The mission? Build a home for a family in need.
Cross and Crown this year has raised $4,500 for the “Mexico Mission” — an annual humanitarian relief effort that started 25 years ago.
“I’m nervous, I don’t travel much,” said Emily Alameida, 16, who goes to Analy High School in Sebastopol. But Alameida has her friend, Gabrielle Scheder, to help her.
“It’s my second year with the youth group, I went last year,” Scheder said. “It took us four days to build a house for a family whose house burnt down while walking to school.”
“It was a really emotional experience, but it was worth it. It opened my eyes to the world and I got a chance to see how other people live,” she added. “It made me appreciate what we have here. I’m so lucky.”
Scheder and Alameida are two of 24 people caravanning down to Mexico. They’ll arrive late Monday, and get to work. Cross and Crown partners with a San Diego-based community service group called Amor Ministries, who chooses the build site and which family gets the house. The house is simple — four walls, no paint, no electricity. But it’s a home for a family who doesn't have one.
“It’s meant to shake up the kids’ sense of what it means to be a servant, and provide a sense of exploration,” said Pastor Newt Kerney, of Cross and Crown.
Kearny said the trip is a way to get kids out of their comfort zones, to see how other people live. No electricity allowed on this trip. The kids sleep in tents. They take bucket showers. The building is all done with hand tools — no power tools or generators or electric saws. Even the cement mixing is done by hand.
Joshua Cobb, 16, from Santa Rosa, said he didn’t mind spending his Spring Break working.
“It’s an opportunity to do something for someone else,” Cobb said. “I’m a little nervous because it’s my first time going to Mexico, but I’m also excited.”
“We couldn’t have done this without the congregation,” said Chuck Juhnke, a church leader. “They donated nails, a roof, money — we couldn’t do this without them.”