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FUMC volunteers help teach VBS, construct church in Mexico

Twelve members of First United Methodist Church in Greenville recently set off on an international journey to Chemax, Mexico, to assist with Vacation Bible School and the construction of a community center. Pictured are, front row, left to right, Cailyn Thompson, Claire Davis, Kendall Hayes, Kathryn McGowan and Anne Blake Langford. Back row, left to right, Elizabeth Matthews, Stephanie Conner, Matt Langford, David Saliba, Pastor Gamaliel Hav Canche, Curt Davis, Warren Matthews and Connally Walters. (Courtesy Photo)

Twelve members of First United Methodist Church in Greenville recently set off on an international journey to Chemax, Mexico, to assist with Vacation Bible School and the construction of a community center. Pictured are, front row, left to right, Cailyn Thompson, Claire Davis, Kendall Hayes, Kathryn McGowan and Anne Blake Langford. Back row, left to right, Elizabeth Matthews, Stephanie Conner, Matt Langford, David Saliba, Pastor Gamaliel Hav Canche, Curt Davis, Warren Matthews and Connally Walters. (Courtesy Photo)

By Beth Hyatt
The Greenville Advocate

Members of First United Methodist Church recently set off on an international journey to Chemax, Mexico, to assist with Vacation Bible School and the construction of a community center.

The team spent nearly a week in country serving the people of Chemax.

Matt Langford has served as the youth minister for FUMC for the past two years and says that the church has wanted to send students on an international mission trip for some time now; so the research process began.

“We knew that we wanted to offer an international mission trip for our church this summer, so David, our pastor, and I started to look for companies to travel with. We found three groups that were going to three different locations, but we finally settled on Hands and Feet Ministries to Chemax, Mexico. Other churches in our area and our denomination used this ministry before, and it seemed like a great fit for us,” said Langford.

Twelve members attended the trip, including three adults, four college-aged students and five youth.

The group flew into Cancun then travelled two hours by van to a tourist and cruise ship destination called Tulum, Mexico. It was here that the group was able to experience the Mexican culture by partaking in meals and interacting with locals. Their final destination for the week was in Chemax, which is about 30 minutes inland from Tulum.

The group would start their workdays off each morning with a Vacation Bible School service for the children. The children in the community would come to the church that the group was helping build and would hear Bible stories and play games like soccer, volleyball and tag. The language barrier offered a small amount of difficulty for the workers, but they soon found that just showing love to the children helped bridge that gap.

“It was difficult at times to communicate because they spoke a mix of Spanish and Mayan, but we found that we could truly communicate with the language of God’s love,” said Langford.

A local parent attended the services as well and translated the songs and lessons in Spanish for the children. At the end of the service, each child was able to construct a craft project to take home with them; this was done to help the children remember the lesson for the day.

The afternoon portion of the day took place close to the church at a community center being built by the Hands and Feet ministry. The foundation and basic structure of three buildings had already been assembled by the time the FUMC group arrived. Their jobs for the remainder of the trip were to mix and pour concrete the way the Mayan people do, with buckets of sand, gravel and water. They also helped mix mezcala, a mixture used to add texture to the walls and floors.

“This community center will truly help the people of Chemax. They will be able to have a place to make income as well as be able to provide tutoring, teach classes and hold events for the community,” said Langford.

Their final day of the trip was used for sightseeing and shopping. They were able to visit the Mayan ruins, go to the beach and shop along the marketplaces in Tulum. Langford says that one of the many highlights of this trip was seeing the students and adults have the opportunity to share the love of Christ with people from a different culture.

“Many of our students had never flown and this was a wonderful opportunity for them, and all of us, to experience a culture and a way of life that was very different from our normal everyday lives. We were able to have great staff at Hands and Feet Ministries that are truly building connections with the community, and they are trying to become a part of this culture as they help to share the love of Christ with this community,” said Langford.

It is Langford’s hope that FUMC will be able to continue sending groups on international mission trips because he believes they are a great way for students to experience the world while also following the command of Christ to make disciples for Him.