In mid-March, Lynne Watson and a small army of young cooks made nearly 300 cream-filled Easter eggs to help fund Trinity Church, Aurora's second mission trip to Mexico.
The group of twelve youths and four adults are spending two weeks this month in San Miguel de Allende, about three hours northwest of Mexico City. They are painting, helping build homes for impoverished families, playing with children - and learning a lot about themselves in the process.
They are working on community projects and helping out at the community's orphanage and at Casa Hogar de los Angeles, a daycare centre for single working mothers.
The Easter egg production raised nearly $1,400 and the sale of the Easter lilies and roses for Valentine's Day were equally successful. The group met weekly to discuss fundraising, the details of the trip and what they would be doing during their trip.
This is Ms. Watson's second trip to San Miguel. She was part of the Trinity contingent on last year's mission, which was lead by the Rev. Nicola Skinner, associate priest. This year, Ms. Skinner was on maternity leave when the group departed, but she said that they go with the love and prayers of the whole parish.
"Making this kind of commitment, taking this kind of journey, is a group effort," she says. "In a way, everyone at Trinity is involved in this mission trip, not just the people who are going to San Miguel. The mission group is reaching out to their brothers and sisters in Christ. They will be doing small things, but sometimes it's the smallest thing that make the greatest differences to others."
Ms. Watson, an accountant with a not-for-profit senior's services agency in Aurora, is eager to be part of this return trip. She got involved last year when she found herself at loose ends once her daughter went off to university.
"The empty nest feeling kicked in, and so I asked Nicola if they needed any help, and she said they did," she said. "My heart just sang. It seemed like the right thing to be doing. I was so excited I was going, I had no idea what I would see."
When they arrived, amid the bustling noise of the busy town centre, she recalls being totally shocked by the poverty. "It was unlike anything I could have ever imagined."
At the orphanage, three women care for about twenty-eight children, many of whom were dropped off by parents unable to care for them. The parents usually do not surrender their parental rights, so the children are not available for adoption.
While the group worked on painting the orphanage's bathroom, a child was dropped off with little more than the clothing she was wearing, and an uncertain future.
"There was so much fear in this little girl's eyes, but when we smiled at her and gave her a hug, the smile was huge," she said. "They need so much love."
"These kids had pretty much nothing," she continued. "Certainly nothing like kids here, but that wasn't the worst of it. The worst part was they had no one to care for them, no one to love them. There just aren't enough people to look out for them all. There were kids as young as two unsupervised all day long. At one point, I remember this little toddler who just kind of passed out on her cot. No one got her settled for a nap, no one tucked her in with her favourite toy. That's what got to me."
Each night, the group got together on their villa's rooftop. Under the stars, they talked about their days and prayed about the work they were doing.
"This one night, we were sitting up there and Nicola asked the group if anyone wanted to add to the prayers - just their thoughts or feelings around what they were doing," says Ms. Watson. "We weren't expecting a lot because teenagers generally don't like to pray aloud in a group. But, it was amazing, they started and they just couldn't stop. They just kept praying and praying. It was very moving."
As they prepared for this trip, Ms. Watson and the group continued to pray for the community.
"It is very hard seeing so many in need," she said. "Some might even question whether going at all does any good. What can you do with only two weeks? But I think the answer is that God can use very little things to do bigger things. We hope that we can be useful, that he will direct us to people in need, and that we can use our resources wisely."
Article By Nancy Devine
reprinted from The Anglican, Diocese of Toronto