Instead of spending spring break at a beach destination splashed with bikinis and board shorts, hundreds of young people from Sacramento’s Bayside churches headed Friday to Mexico to build houses and goodwill.
College and high school students packed their favorite pillows and other personal belongings into vans, sport-utility vehicles and trucks for the long ride to a rural area near Mexicali in Baja California, accompanied by adult chaperones.
It is the 22nd time that Bayside has made the trek to Mexico. On the first trip in the mid-1990s, 26 students and adults went to Mexico over spring break.
On Friday, 800 students and 400 adults headed south. Among them were brothers John and Isaiah Gomez, who said they were looking forward to putting on sports programs and sharing their faith.
“I think it is important to go because it is good for the world,” said Isaiah Gomez.
The Rev. Jordanna Sadri, Bayside’s Global Outreach pastor, said Bayside works with 36 Mexican churches in Mexicali. Bayside members will be constructing 11 houses and organizing play, sports and music programs for children and teens.
“We always have a construction element,” Sadri said. “So, there will be 11 teams building homes for widows and families in extreme need. We are pretty excited about the families that will be getting new homes this year.”
Bayside will have a base camp with showers, tents and port-a-potties. They come from five Bayside campuses: Granite Bay, midtown, Blue Oaks in Roseville, Folsom and Adventure at Stanford Ranch.
The tent camp, set up to serve the surrounding farming community, includes Bayside first aid and security teams.
“The experience for the high school students is profound,” Sadri said. “It makes an impression when they see that the homes we are building for a family of six is 18 feet-by-18 feet. Some our students have rooms that size. They get a perspective they can’t get going to Disneyland or on a spring break trip to a Santa Cruz surf camp.”
Sadri said the Bayside students, who come from various economic backgrounds, return with an appreciation for what they have at home. Without cell phone service, the young people focus on the experience.
“They see that people who have far less than they have can live with joy,” Sadri said. “The students from here are unplugged. They are not thinking about how many people have liked their Instagram photo. They are doing things such as giving piggy-back rides, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and doing arts and crafts.”