Mission Trip Improves Campus Security

A joint mission trip between the Seventh-day Adventist Community Church of Vancouver, Wash., and Columbia Adventist Academy (CAA) in Battle Ground, Wash., held March 20–30, 2014, grew the 9-foot-high security wall around the campus of International Children’s Care (ICC) Hogar Escuela Adventista (HEA) in San Juan Opico, El Salvador, by another 100 feet. The wall is a long-term project by ICC to improve security on the campus and has been worked on by many mission groups over the last four years.

The trip was made during the Oregon Conference spring break by 26 members of the church, CAA students and former CAA students attending Walla Walla University. The trip was originally initiated by Jeff Richards, pastor, as a youth department project for the church before he answered a call from the Northern California Conference. After Richards left, it continued under the co-leadership of Joel Reyes, ICC public relations director and former administrator of HEA, and Doug Congleton, ICC executive director.

Daily project pictures were posted to the Vancouveradventistyouthgroup Facebook page, and emails were sent home to friends and family in the U.S. Many of the emails are also posted on the Adventist Community Church of Vancouver Facebook page.

In addition to work on the wall, other improvements that occurred during the trip included a fresh coat of paint on the administration building, replacement of rotted decking on a sidewalk bridge, various electrical repairs and improvements, and minor plumbing and household repairs. One of the major electrical repairs was the providing and installing of a radio transmitter switch at the water storage tank on the campus' highest elevation and receiver at the well pump on what is about the lowest point on campus, more than 1,000 feet away. Now the water storage tank level stays between 75 and 100 percent full day and night, regardless of the demand on the water system, without someone having to notice the tank is low and manually turning on the pump.

Evening worship was held on the grass volleyball court, where the mission team was joined by many of the students and staff of HEA. In addition to good music in both Spanish and English, the highlight each evening were responses to the question, “Where did you see Jesus today?” These included many observations of people doing good deeds above and beyond their assigned tasks during each day.

The trip was not quite all work in the 100 F noontime temperatures. (It did get down into the 70s at night — not quite the kind of weather typical of the workers' southwest Washington climate.) The group was able to visit a local World Heritage site just a couple of miles from HEA. The Joya de Cerén archeological park is the only Mayan village ruin that has been found and restored in Central America. Most other known Mayan ruins are temples. They also visited a cluster of three volcanoes. Most of the younger people in the group hiked the five-hour round-trip to the rim of one of the two active volcanoes in the grouping. The rest did a short loop around the extinct crater of the center mountain through the old-growth jungle. One day was taken off from work to enjoy a Pacific Ocean beach relaxing and playing in the waves.

The best part of any mission trip is always the friendships and relationships developed, both with the people at HEA and also within the mission group. The last night before leaving for the San Salvador airport at 3 a.m., the young missionaries and the HEA residents shed many tears over not seeing each other again this side of heaven.

Almost everyone on the trip was able to participate only because of the generosity of friends, family and church members. Group members especially want to thank all their donors, Pronto Pup buyers, fundraising breakfast eaters and “rent-a-teen” employers who made it possible for them to be Jesus’ hands and feet on the ground in El Salvador.

If you have the opportunity to go on a mission trip sponsored by your church or school, do it. It will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. It does not matter if you have a gray beard or if you are a high school youth. There are few joys in life as great as doing things for someone else. Gaining perspective on what life is like in developing countries is also sobering for both adults and youth. Don’t let the lack of money stop you from trying to go on a trip like this. There are many wonderful people out there who, even though they cannot go, are willing to send their money with those who can. All you have to do is ask.

May 06, 2014 / Oregon Conference