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Thu, June 04

GC teens go on<br>mission to Mexico

GC VILLAGE — It was a summer to remember for five Grand Canyon teen-agers who went to Mexico on a mission of inspiration.

Matt Hender, Christina Wier, Kenneth Kirby, Shaun Cochran and Tomas Alarcon were all part of the Youth With A Mission organization. The five teens communicated the word of God to youngsters in Tijuana.

Local youth taking part in this summer's mission to Mexico were, from left, Shaun Cochran, Kenneth Kirby, Tomas Alarcon, Christina Wier and Matt Hender.

"We all got something out of it, it was very beneficial," Wier said. "We learned so much in a short period of time, to be respectful of each other."

Hender, 17, participated in the mission to Tijuana for a second straight year. While working with the Mexican youth, Hender said the activities were also enlightening for him.

"I just realized God’s grace is great ... it was a lot more personal for me than last year," Hender said. "It was different this time. It was not as overwhelming as last year because I knew what to expect."

The Grand Canyon group began the mission with a trip to Los Angeles for various types of training. They left the Canyon on July 1 and joined other kids from places like Montana, Canada, northern California and Washington. Kirby, 16, who now lives at Grand Canyon, was part of a Yellowstone National Park group.

"We went through training to learn more about God," said Wier, 16. "We got into the feeling of what we were doing. And we had time to practice our plays or do whatever we would be doing."

All five teens were part of an evangelism group. Their goal was to spread the word while entertaining. Since the Mexican youth do not speak English, there were certain barriers. But those were torn down quickly.

"When we went down to Mexico, I felt God was working through us," Kirby said. "Even though they didn’t speak English, they could understand us. The translators helped, too."

Cochran, 16, echoed those comments and added that the whole experience was special for him.

"It was the greatest experience of my life," Cochran said. "I was able to speak with God for the first real time in my life. I was not afraid."

Each of the five local teens entertained the few hundred kids in Tijuana through various methods. Alarcon and Cochran were both clowns. Hender and Kirby acted in plays. And Wier performed a sign language song.

Kirby portrayed Jesus in a play about making the right decisions in life.

"I learned that it was more than just being a Christian," said Alarcon, 14. "It’s going out and sharing God with others."

The performances were done in pantomime to close the communication gap. Still, Wier, Hender and Cochran speak some Spanish through the classes they’ve taken at Grand Canyon.

Besides the messages of inspiration and hope through skits, part of the group helped build a house for a poor family. Last year, Hender was part of the group building a home for a family of six.

A typical day would start off by getting up early, eating breakfast and then perhaps practicing skits. Some went off to work on the house while many taught Bible school.

The teens traveled to Tijuana using their own money. The group of close to 100 teens all came from different backgrounds, Wier said, and she left after making some good friends.

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