Mission Trips in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, New Orleans and South Africa


While Lafayette's Sivesind and Brown family sipped margarita's beachside at Cabo's Royal Solaris, Walnut Lane youth could also be found in Mexico over Spring Break. Among our neighbor's pouring cement and putting up drywall on behalf of Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church (MVPC) were Campolindo's Matt Keeble, Sophia McCarthy, Christine Moore and Wilita Sanguma.

Moraga's Darlene and Dave Kingery, along with Campo Cougars Julianne and Stephen helped build a home in five days. "It's like a legacy with the church," notes Darlene who worked food prep last year. "I think it's important that the kids give to others. It's a perspective check. You see how little these people have."

St. Mary's Professor and former soccer coach, Orinda's Randy Farris is an advocate for under-privileged kids in the Dominican Republic. At his camp, Farris met Leslie Trautwin. The Campo graduate moved to the DR with her husband who is the Director of Kid's Alive. "Leslie wanted me to come there and work with the kids," remarks Farris. "I said no four times. I'd done the soccer stuff and had traveled abroad, but I finally decided to go."

Farris went down for two weeks and returned to share his enthusiasm and knowledge with the St. Mary's students resulting in a Jan term "Christian Service Internship" in 2005 and 2006. The interns go to all four "Kid's Alive" sites on the island where they set up soccer clinics and PE classes. He's also a member of the Global Missions Team at MVPC with Associate Pastor Tom Dabasinskas.

The youth at Lafayette-Orinda-Presbyterian Church will be heading to New Orleans in August for a mission trip. "Growing up in the church, I've been on 11 mission trips," says LOPC's Youth Director Blake Beal. "We'll go to Denver and Atlanta for service at inner city soup kitchens and different organizations around the city that serve the homeless. We do an international trip every four years so the students can experience global travel."

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The church is partnering with The School of Urban Missions, www.SUMonline.org,   for the summer trip. The kids will be visiting the city and working with the families as they go through the process of rebuilding their lives.

Mississippi natives Tammy and Michael Borosky, along with Stanley eighth grader Hannah and Burton Valley Elementary's Weston, have founded the non-profit Adopt A Coast Family, www.adoptacoastfamily.org Weston's elementary school hosted a musical concert to raise funds for the Gorenflo school in Biloxi. The Borosky's returned to New Orleans during Mardi gras to visit family and continue their mission of helping gulf coast families get back on track.

Lafayette's Mary Anne Winig went on a "study mission" with American Jewish World Service, www.AJWS.org, a cross congregational organization that helps Jews understand their place in the world as global citizens. "One of the main tenants of Judaism is Tikun Olam," offers Winig. "In Hebrew it translates to repair the world. The organization gives Jews the opportunity to be global citizens." The organization supports over 100 partners in the developing of non-governmental organization project partners such as micro credit loans.

"With the HIV aids crisis in South Africa, we visited 6-8 project partners to see where our funding was going," reflects Winig. "Our first trip was to Peru where we visited project partners who had a program to develop health education and micro credit in the high Andes. "We go around to various local groups and try to educate people about the work that AJWS does in the developing world."

In addition to the study missions, they also do alternative Spring Break work study programs for college-age students and offer volunteer opportunities for adults to stay and work. An Acalanes graduate, daughter Heidi, has worked in Guyana, South America, and now works for AJWS in El Cerrito. She has lead many work trips around the world.

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Nancy Brown grew up in Moraga and lives in Lafayette with her husband and children. She looks forward to hearing of your adventures. Send items to NancyBrownConsulting@comcast.net.