By Sandy Ahmed

Last month, 13 adults and teenagers from Living Faith Community Church in West Grove traveled to central Mexico to make a difference in the lives of rural villagers in Acapulco. Their mission was to deliver clean drinking water.

One team member, Leaha Lopez, a second grade teacher for the Oxford Area School District, commented, "The most memorable thing for me was seeing a natural spring, cleaned out, and an eight-by-eight cement structure, built around it, filtering out pollutants so that the villagers can have healthier lives."

Lopez also shared the challenges of the project. "It's hard work, but extremely rewarding. At the end of the day, I was exhausted, but it was a great feeling. I did things like carry small boulders and buckets of concrete, which I didn't think I could handle. It pushed me to my limits physically. When I needed help, the rest of the team was right there to help out." 

Another team member, Dr. Eric Parente, a DVM and Professor of Large Animal Surgery for the University of Pennsylvania, at New Bolton, shared what making a difference in the lives of the villagers' means to him. "We all want the world to be a better place. Well, if you do, then this (Mission Mexico) is one way to make it happen: brick by brick, person by person."

Parente also relayed the impact this trip has had on his 10-year-old son, Aiden. It has helped Aiden understand the importance of giving back, in contrast to our culture's advertisements, which focus on getting more for ourselves to make our own lives easier. Parente stated: "Growing up, over time, with these types of experiences, will hopefully make Aiden a better person in many ways. Isn't that what every parent wants for their child?" 

The entire team agrees the benefits they received from participating in Mission Mexico far outweigh any personal sacrifices they made. They enthusiastically recommend that others consider overseas volunteering opportunities such as this one.