Mission Adventure Team Builds Community Center in Mexico

May 01, 2017 | Sandy Larsen

Winter has become a common season to find a group of volunteer-minded individuals leaving Moses Lake, Wash., for Baja California, Mexico. Feb. 7 this year found all 29 of them meeting at their final destination, La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Spanish-speaking leaders of the group Mission Adventure, Sandy and Darayl Larsen, are from the Moses Lake Church. These former missionaries have been leading mission teams for 20 years, with the last two in La Paz.

This year, headquarters were made at Campestre Maranatha, a nondenominational, nonprofit organization that serves the needs of the underprivileged in Baja California and opportunely and graciously accepted our group into their camp setting.

Second Hope Ministries from Milton-Freewater, Ore., once again held an eye clinic and provided simple eye tests to 900 patients. That means that nearly 900 pairs of prescription glasses or readers were dispensed free of charge. The glasses had been donated, categorized, labeled and entered into the computer before being packed and prepared for dispensing.

The Mission Adventure’s main project was to build a community center with space for medical, dental and eye clinics, in addition to a hair-cutting area and a health lecture room. On Sabbaths, the auditorium will become a church — church that wants to serve its community more than once or twice a week.

Unfortunately at arrival we found that foundations had not been laid, so the group quickly changed their focus and were soon busy with foundation work. This was the most difficult part of the task as gravel, sand, cement and water were carried by hand to the cement mixer and then the mix was carried in the same way to its final destination.

Besides the community center, there were plenty of other projects to keep the group busy. Plaster repair and painting walls and doors in the dining hall at Campestre Maranatha made it look almost new again.

Team members also painted the interior of a small church built last year by our group in an underprivileged area outside of the city. In addition, funds were donated to buy additional cement blocks for the community center and for another church across town. A new projector screen was also donated for the community center.

Fun times were had at the local Adventist school as Jackie Vazquez and Darayl Larsen interacted with the kids in an animated week of prayer themed “God Hears Your Prayer."

The team distributed 90 gift bags stuffed with small stuffed animals, new underwear and socks for kids, hygiene kits, kitchen towels, school supplies, and small toys to the neighborhood around the new community center. Happy families were grateful for the kindness, and already calls have come in inquiring about the new center and church.

One man who received a gift bag walked down to the construction site and said he hadn’t been to an Adventist church in 13 years but had been raised an Adventist and attended an Adventist university. Now he has found his “home.”

On Sabbath, Feb. 11, the eye care team drove an hour south to Todos Santos and joined other health care professionals (dentists, doctors and pharmacists) to provide free health care for the local residents. Late afternoon found the group navigating dirt roads in search of a turtle preserve where Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings, the most common sea turtles, are released at sundown.

By the end of the two weeks all the foundation walls for the community center and perimeter of the property had been completed, rebar cages were in place, forms were built, and cement was poured. After tarring the walls, trenches were refilled with 12 truckloads of fill dirt. Local church members continue the project and will soon be ready for roofing.

Once again time and talent have been sacrificed for this project; funds were raised, and the call was answered to be a blessing south of the border. But the question remains: Who received the blessing? For the Mission Adventure team the answer is clear: The greater blessing was theirs. Now, eager for the blessing to continue, they plan for next year’s adventure.