Puerto Rico Mission Trip - Summer 2017
Puerto Rico Mission Trip – June 2017
I recently was blessed to travel to Puerto Rico with Tara and Luis Campos to participate in the VBS camp of La Viña de Mayaguez. Pastors Marvin and Carmen Suarez were gracious enough to host us in their home.
The camp, which registered 107 kid ages 5-13, was composed primarily of neighborhood kids. Each day the children were served a nutritious breakfast and lunch.
What made this camp stand out was the fact that it was run entirely by the youth of the church. Yes, there were adults that volunteered and the youth were overseen by the Camp Director, Carmen, but they pretty much ran the whole thing.
For months they have been preparing the music, writing the devotions and choreographing the dances that went along with the songs they would teach the kids. Once the camp started they taught the classes, led the songs and taught the kids the dances. They also led the kids in the “manualidades” the arts and crafts. Every day they also led an organized a physical activity period with each of the three age groups.
The highlight of the camp was the “Clausura” which took place on Thursday night at the local Center for the Preforming Arts. The youth and the children put on a 2-hour show with songs, dancing and with skits relating the stories of the Creation, Noah’s Ark, Esther and David, and Goliath. Not surprisingly, the parents enjoyed seeing their children on stage.
For us, we got to know the children and interact with them on a daily basis. We helped out as we could, trying our best to stay out of the way of the youth. I for one enjoyed getting to know one of their youth leaders, Daniel, who kept on asking me some very deep questions about the Word and about our beliefs
in the Vineyard. Daniel is a very intelligent young man who is studying economics at the local college, but who feels God has a call on his life.
It was heartbreaking when as we would get to know the children, we would observe certain behaviors and wonder about their backgrounds. Later as we would ask Carmen about them we would find out the horrific backstories and what some of these children have endured at such a young age.
As I mentioned before, most of these children come from the community and for them, this camp is their one opportunity to experience God’s love. The youth love these kids in such a way that many of them are extremely sad to see it end. Not only are they getting fed physically, they are also getting fed spiritually.
God bless Marvin and Carmen for having chosen strategically to invest in their children and their youth. They want their church to have a bright future that impacts their community. The results are quite apparent.
My prayer is that next year, our youth will go down for a week to help out with the camp.
I know that I was tremendously blessed and encouraged by what I experienced.
Pastor Jay Molina