Living faith in action — St. Ambrose, Foster City, and Holy Child & St. Martin, Daly City, team up with Sierra Service Project

The “God Squad” service project team from St. Ambrose and Holy Child & St. Martin recently returned from a weeklong mission trip, July 10 through July 17, to San Diego. Sierra Service Project set up the logistics for the week and First United Methodist Church, San Diego, provided their home base during their time in the area. The combined team of 11 youth and adults joined 62 other participants from four different United Methodist Churches (Half Moon Bay, Davis, Elk Grove, and Ridgecrest), and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Saipan. Open to youth grades six through 12, this mission trip was also intergenerational, with qualified adults (parents included) serving as counselors and mentors for our youth. 

In preparation, the team had conversations about cultivating genuine connections, making sacrifices to serve others, listening to the stories of the community, supporting sustainable ministries, staying mindful without judgment, and remaining prayerful. The overall theme, “Set your foundation,” invited an awareness of God’s love through building relationships, working for the community, and being present to complex issues around human migration, racism, privilege, and class. In addition, participants were challenged to reflect on their guiding values. 

On this mission trip the team crossed the U.S./Mexico border, meeting supporters on the U.S. side at Friendship Park (El Faro) in Tijuana. They also heard the stories of families separated by deportation, ex-gang members repatriated into a productive life in Mexico, and of service workers dedicated to offering displaced people hope and Christ’s love in difficult times. The team repaired homes, churches, and schools in the diverse City Heights neighborhood, and helped care for natural habitats in the Canyonlands. They made friends in San Diego, Mexico, and with people of faith from around the world. Their pilgrimage even took them to Disneyland. Before returning home they joined the faithful at All Saints, Pasadena, for Sunday worship and felt their vibe for justice, equity, and Good News of Jesus. 

Mission trips can offer  young people opportunities to see the face of God in others and to engage their spirituality in meaningful ways. They are fun too. These memories will help form how they live into love in the world.  As Christians reach out to a generation skeptical about institutions like the church and submerged in a world washed in isolation, inequity, and fear, offering sacred spaces to set one’s foundation makes a difference. NBA star Dwayne Wade recently wrote, “Relationships are important people!” And Jesus said, “Your faith has made you well.” Live faith in action!

The Rev. Jay Sapaen Watan serves as Youth Minister and School Chaplain at St. Ambrose, Foster City, and as a chaplain in the United States Army Reserves. For more information about Sierra Service Project please see their website at http://sierraserviceproject.org.