From Barton to Oaxaca
A group at Barton Church recently shared their faith abroad.
From Aug. 10-17, members of the church's mission team journeyed to Oaxaca, Mexico, to work at Trigo y Miel, a feeding center that provides a meal to children and families six days a week. In English, the name of the facility translates to Wheat and Honey.
"Our goal is to go serve our faith. Our example is Jesus, who served others, especially the poor and vulnerable," said pastor Ben Erickson. "For a lot of these kids, this is the only meal that they have."
Each week, 150 children attend Trigo y Miel. They range in age from infants to high school students.
During their recent visit, Barton parishioners coordinated food and several activities for the youths, including art projects and introducing them to Legos.
Erickson said playing with the children was memorable. They held a competition to see who could build the biggest Lego structure.
"It was a really cool moment when 150 kids were working silently on a piece of art," Erickson added.
Since the mission trip marked the last week before the students in Oaxaca returned to school, the team from Barton also coordinated an end of summer celebration with bounce houses and water slides.
Another goal of the team was to treat those involved with the daily operations at Trigo y Miel.
"We took all of the ladies out for manicures and pedicures. For some of them, it was their first time," Erickson said. "We also did a big barbecue for everyone."
In addition to these activities, the team coordinated cooking and first aid classes.
This year, 11 parishioners participated in the mission. They ranged in age from teenagers to older adults.
"It's a great trip, especially for a first time (mission). If you love kids, this is the perfect place to go," said Erickson.
In the past six years, Barton Church has visited Trigo y Miel four times. Those involved with the service appreciate building a relationship with the community over time.
"We have developed friendships," Erickson said.
Additionally, they've been able to see the results of their work. In 2012, they helped dig the foundation for an expansion of the center that became a bakery. During subsequent years, they've been able to see the bakery in action.
Even more rewarding for the team is to watch the children they've worked with grow up. One student they've met, Itzel, is now attending college.
"University is setting her up for a better future," Erickson said.
Typically, Barton Church goes on one mission trip each year.
Erickson added that the journey is "an opportunity to serve in another culture."
He noted that although it might seem like missionaries are spreading good works, they are also benefiting from the experience.
"You think you're serving someone else, but you come back being served, whether it's seeing the love and gratitude of someone living in the simplest of circumstances or relationships within the team," Erickson said. "We think we're going to go good deeds, but it's us who end up getting blessed."