From April 1 to 10, a team of 17 Woodland Hills adults and students travelled to Puebla, Mexico to server at the Esperanza Viva children’s home. Below is a recap of the trip based on the reflections of the parents and youth that went on the trip.
We set off for Esperanza Viva on April 1. We had been anticipating this trip for a long time! Back in October, a couple of us dreamed of exposing our children to missions and the greater world. We had never done anything like this before, but God began blessing us even before we landed in Puebla. After putting a call out in the bulletin, six families responded—7 adults and 10 children. A few people on the team were bilingual, so we didn’t even need a translator. Everyone stayed in good health, we had no complications with travel (no small thing when you’re traveling with 10 kids ages 6-16!) and we raised $30,890 with help from our Woodland Hills family and other donors. It was going to be an amazing trip!
Typically, the mission teams that come to Esperanza Viva (EV) are not made up of such young children. Because of the uniqueness of our group, the orphanage allotted us more time with the EV kids to build relationships, as opposed to having us do a work project. In the mornings we were with the EV kids in small groups of 10, and in the afternoons, we became a large group of 70. We filled our days doing activities together—crafts, games, outside play, conversation, eating together, worship and devotions. Our children planned and led most of the activities, including worship and devotional time, which was amazing to witness in and of itself!
Many of the EV staff commented on how engaged our group was with the kids and how well everyone connected with one another. It was so awesome to see both groups of kids transform because of the relationships they were forming together. Some of our kids even felt that this is how God met them the most on the trip.
Before the trip started, our kids prayed to make friends, to learn, and to have fun with the EV kids—and would agree that God blessed them with all those things! We adults prayed that we would see our kids’ faith increase and God totally answered. To be in the present moment with them and watch them pour love into each other’s lives, opened all our hearts exactly how we hoped God would on this trip.
We laughed together, sang together, wept together, learned together – we did pretty much everything together! And it was so good to experience how loving like our relational God really breaks down walls and builds community.
One evening, we had a bonfire with our team, some of the EV students, and their supervisors. As we sat around the fire, I was so moved by the beautiful way our students were completely immersed with their new Mexican friends. We worshipped together—songs we all know in our respective languages—and the sound was like the scripture about our worship being a sweet fragrance to the Lord. I was overwhelmed. In that moment we were not Mexicans or Americans, privileged or fatherless, in plenty or in want. We were God’s children, sitting at His feet.”
– Erica Morrow, parent