Blog 6/17

Hi everyone! This is Annie and I’ll be writing the blog post for today! We started the day off today by doing an activity to strengthen and support each other – we all had a piece of paper taped to our backs and everyone went around writing compliments and encouragements on each other. It was a very nice way to start our last day of outreach!

Both Tri-Valley teams went to orphanages today. Green Team did manual labor helping out with mowing grass, clearing out dirty sheds, and picking up trash. Both teams spent time playing with the kids (also with face paint and nail polish!) and it was amazing to see how much these children care for one another even though many of them are not related.
Our evening session was very different tonight: the staff staged a Syrian refugee simulation. All the students were crowded into a small space (representing the country of Syria) to watch videos of real attacks on Syrian towns and the impact it has made on the children. People were gradually led out of “Syria” and into escape routes while being blindfolded (but not without a price: many of us had to give up our shoes, backpacks, jackets, and more to escape from Syria). Some were purposely misled and sent back to “Syria”, others made it to set up refugee camps, and still others were very close to being sent to safety in America but eventually deported. Our “family members” were tortured and killed and “valuable items” were taken away. After this hour-long stimulation, the entire base gathered to have a discussion on how their views on refugees have changed. Many of our own students felt anger and frustration similar to those experienced by Syrians.  This experience was truly eye opening to how much our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world are suffering and a call to action to respond to these attacks.
On a side note, praise to the Lord that Linda Wu was baptized last night! It occurred relatively late in the day and was not included in yesterday’s blog post, but it is an event that evidently showed the Holy Spirit working in our group. Mentioned in yesterday’s post, the entire youth group spent the evening at the beach as a group bonding event. The plan was to watch the sunset and have small group discussions after, but this plan was never put in action. Our entire group spent over an hour talking to a group of four homeless men: encouraging them in Christ and listening to their stories. Many of us were very touched by their love for God despite their circumstances (to the point of tears!) As a church we prayed for the men and shared the gospel them. It was incredible to see many of us stepping outside of our comfort zones and proclaiming the word of God. Most touched of all was Linda Wu, who spent much time talking to a man named Francisco, who is a struggling alcoholic desperate for help from God. It just so happened that a church that is also a part of this YWAM mission trip from Alaska was doing baptisms in the ocean, and Linda made the decision to commit her life to God! The Holy Spirit was definitely with us last night as we cheered her on and celebrated her joyful entrance into God’s family. It’s amazing to see how much God has worked in her life in just these last five days and I’m excited for you all to hear her testimony when we return to California!

Tomorrow both groups will be going to a church for Sunday service. In the afternoon, we’ll be doing shopping and touristy stuff in Ensenada. We’re very excited for our last full day here in Mexico!

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