What’s so special about McAllen, anyway?

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By Ashley Holland

Ten white church vans, 100 students, an 11-hour car ride, an excessive amount of soda and one too many PB&J sandwiches. These are the essentials for the trip to the border-town of McAllen, TX.

For the past four years, the Edmond Church of Christ Campus Ministry has been building relationships and fixing homes for the community in McAllen. Prior to the McAllen Spring Break Mission Trip, the Edmond church did mission work in Aquiles, Mexico, for 23 years. The change in location came from new safety risks in Mexico.

To a first-timer, the trip is exciting but slightly daunting. It is a weeklong endeavor that includes an exhausting drive, a sleepover in a local church, three days at Camp Loma De Vida and a concluding trip to San Antonio for the last two days that has no agenda. The camp is the headquarters for the group. This is where we have cabins to stay in, as well as where we do nightly black-out worship and have senior-led devotionals in the mess hall.

Freshman Kate SaeLim said she personally loved the devotions.

“My other favorite part was the late night devos in the dark — the singing was amazing. I enjoyed getting to hear the seniors pass on their wisdom.”

After the devotions, the nights are long, full of conversations, late night snacks and the annual Spades tournament that lasts throughout the entire week.

One of the many draws to the McAllen trip seems to be the fact that each person in the group has the opportunity to choose in what capacity they would like to serve the community. At a nightly sign-up board, there are different service opportunities to choose from, such as kitchen duty, where volunteers prepare the meal for that night, a VBS crew if being with kids is your passion, painting crews, as well as multiple construction crews that vary from reinstalling tile floors to putting a new roof on a house.

“For me, McAllen is unique because you kind of get to pick and choose your trip, from choosing who you’re in a van with, to signing up for the project you want to partake in, to even who you want to play spades with if you want to play,” senior Tanner Bentley said.

Another draw to this particular mission trip is the relationships that are made, both within the group, as well as outside the group while serving the town’s residents. At the nightly devotions, there are opportunities for anyone to speak up and discuss how they saw God in the activities of the day. Stories each night ranged from interactions with other students, to stories of relationships built and life stories learned from those whom the service projects were helping.

“Everyone becomes like family,” Bentley said. “People put aside their differences and work together because God prepared the way for this trip. We understand the work we do is so much bigger than any petty problems we might have come with.”

From relationships to service projects or a break from school, this trip seems to cover them all. The McAllen mission trip is special because it includes many options for those participating, is a beautiful opportunity for building relationships, and everyone is striving towards one goal: to show the light of God through not only words, but actions as well.

 

Ashley Holland is a sophomore at Oklahoma Christian University. 

The opinions of guest columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Talon or Oklahoma Christian University. Guest opinions are presented to foster public debate on important topics and comments should be respectful and signed.

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