This coming Spring break, March 30 - April 8, we will be going on a short-term missions trip to a village called Ejido Netzahualcóyotl ("Eh-HEE-doh Nets-ah-wah-COY-yot-ul"), "Netza" for short. We will be joining an existing team that's been going to this village for years, led by Jeff Dumke, a former pastor at Rose Valley Friends Church, and Russ Rambo, a former youth pastor here.
Sunday, Oct. 30, we held an informational meeting about the trip. This email is a summary of that meeting for those who couldn't make it, or could use a place to look back over what we learned.
March 29: Bring items to Rainier headquarters to pack by 5pm
March 30: Leave Rainier at 10am
March 31: Arrive at Netza before church service at 6pm
April 1: Rest and preparation, prayer and worship at 6pm
April 2: shopping and church service at 6pm
April 3: VBS, construction, visiting homes
April 4: VBS, construction, women’s gathering. 6pm gathering
April 5: VBS, construction, visiting homes. 6pm gathering
April 6: VBS, construction, Fiesta, 6pm gathering
April 7: Leave at 4am, travel to Denair, CA for the night
April 8: Home
The first couple days after arriving are pretty chill; after all, we’ll have been traveling for 2-3 days. It’s time to rest and get to know people.
We will begin each day with a team devotional and end our day with worship at 6pm.
There may be some building projects, but nothing as rigorous as building a house.
On Sunday, we’ll do some touristy things, including sight-seeing and visiting the market.
While in Mexico, we'll visit a lot of homes and share a meal. You’ll get to pray and visit with them. Jeff said, “You want them to pray for you!”
Pays for: construction supplies, food, some VBS and women’s program supplies, gas, and insurance.
Not included: food while traveling, any personal shopping, offerings for Netza.
-Sleeping bag and cot, spending money, sunscreen, bug repellent, flashlight, work clothes, nice church clothes, jacket or sweatshirt (it gets cold at night), Bible and journal, tool set if working construction.
-As much Fruit of the Spirit as you can grow!
-Adults will need to either renew their passports if they expire before March 2023 (mine will!) or get an enhanced Washington State driver’s license. Minors don’t need passports to enter Mexico, but, unless a parent is with them, they will need a birth certificate and a permission form from their parent/guardian.
What’s special about this trip
Lots of times, American short-term missions teams go into foreign countries under the impression they are bringing Christ to them for the first time, or are going to teach them something new. But that’s not always the case, and in Netza, they have a strong, vibrant faith in Jesus. There’s probably nothing we could teach them about following Jesus, but there’s plenty they could teach us.
Go into this with the expectation to learn from them. I’m eager to see how our Mexican brothers and sisters in Christ worship and follow Jesus, as they don’t share the same blind spots as us.
A brief history:
Jeff Dumke and Russ Rambo have been going to Mexico every year since 1990. 32 years! Over time, God put a burden on their heart for the people of the small village Netzahualcoyotl (nicknamed Netza). You can find it here on Google Maps. The team developed a deep, meaningful and mutual relationship with them. For over 20 years they’ve been making annual trips to do building projects for them, from building houses, or additions, etc. And while the projects remain a major part of their work down there, it’s not nearly as important as the bonds they share. In fact, on a recent trip, the people in Netza “fired” them from their job, telling them to quit working because they just wanted to hang out. For Netza, being with them was more important than what they were doing for them. There’s a lot we can learn from that.
Jeff was in Netza last week to arrange for our trip down this Spring. When he told them that, due to the cost of building materials, we wouldn’t be doing much building this year, they applauded!
The people there are self-sacrificially hospitable. Families will save up all year just to cook the team a meal, as a gesture of friendship and a thank-you. Many of them will even take time off work in the fields, sacrificing income, just to come help build. They sacrifice more than the team!
They’re very musical. There are many talented musicians in Netza, and it’s not uncommon for them to break out on spontaneous song.
And they love to have fun! The teams have spent a lot of time playing games like volleyball or soccer. In fact, it’s an important part of overcoming the language barrier.
They may not always be able to understand each other, but once they find a game they can both play, they’re able to spend meaningful time together and transcend the language barrier.
Every year, the U.S. team gets to cook them a meal, too; on the final night, they’ll host a fiesta for Netza. It’s something everyone looks forward to.
What are the proactive safety measures? Compared to other Mexican villages, Netza is very safe, so safety for people and property isn’t a concern. However, there are several people on the team who have plenty of experience and can help navigate sketchy places or situations. If there is any potential for danger, people from the church will stay up on overnight watch.
What happens if someone is injured or sick? We do have nurses coming with med kits to handle most minor things. However, if needed there is a private medical care facility about 30 minutes away from Netza, and an emergency lane across the border into California.
What’s your policy on phones and devices? You can bring them with you, but please limit them to when you’re alone as to not detract from the people around you, especially while in Mexico. However, unless you have an international phone plan, you probably won’t want to use it much anyway, as calling, texting, and (especially) using data abroad will be quite expensive.
What does it look like to overcome the language barrier? It depends on the situation. Kids tend to find ways to connect pretty quickly. Sometimes there will be a translator available. But sometimes you’ll just sit there and stare at each other until you get bored enough to find something that works. Love finds a way. Be okay with that!
The Kelso library has a program where you can get a subscription to DuoLingo for free. Take advantage of that!