by Brooke Orozco and Charlotte Unwin

“Mission in your own backyard”: We took this saying literally when we moved from Paraguay, South America, back to Michigan to reach out to the Hispanic population right here in our original “home state”. It was taken to another level on July 6, 7, 8 and 9th, when two youth groups set up tents in our backyard and lived here with us in farm-country; Fowler/St. Johns area, north of Lansing.

St. Luke’s youth group, accompanied by Paul Easterday and Lisa McCleary, brought six students! Gathered with another Michigan youth group from Metro-Detroit, Octane, there were a total of 15 campers/volunteers. With our family, we totaled 20 people gathered here on our property in order to reach out to the local Hispanic Children with the Gospel of Jesus!

We used the “VBS” format and material that was developed for this past year’s Mexicali Mission Trip that took place in April. There were a few returning students from that trip and a handful of new-comers who came to present the Bible story of Joseph, help the children apply it to their lives, play with the children, and just love them! It was wonderful to watch God use them to make an impact on other young lives through the power of His Word.

Uncle John’s Cider Mill in St. Johns generously opened their property to us and let us hold our program there for three nights. We were also given permission to go into the Migrant Worker Summer School program and play parachute games with the kids during the school day. For a good idea on what a typical day was like, read Charlotte’s Run Down of the Day.

The week  we spent in Lansing was so much fun. In the morning, we had a devotional/journaling time and then prepared for the VBS program. One morning we went on a tour of the dairy and mint farms nearby. In the evenings, we got to the Cider Mill where we held the program and waited for the children to show up.

We had a van going to get kids that needed rides. We would play with the kids on the Kangaroo Jump (a ground trampoline) and race with them. They also enjoyed playing soccer with us.

The VBS program was very educational for the kids. We read the Bible story in English and also Spanish, so they heard it in both languages.  Each day we had an object lesson which helped them understand even more.  The kids absolutely LOVED playing “Limón”: a game we played after the lesson each day, to see if they could answer questions about what they just learned.

We ate dinner together and talked about what had happened in the story that day. At the end of the day we would say our good-byes and the kids didn’t want to go. Each day more kids came. They wanted to learn about God and have fun at the same time. We went from 5 kids to 15. I would do that again in a heart beat.

Back at camp, we all came together before bed in front of the campfire to talk about the day. We talked about our “highs, lows and how we saw God work”, then we had a small devotional to wrap up the day.

Thanks to that week I want to be in youth ministry because children deserve to know God and learn about him.
Next summer we plan to reach out again with the help of local youth groups. Look for more info as July gets closer, about how St. Luke will be involved and pencil in the second week of July to come do mission in your own backyard!

If you want to support programs like this and reach out to Hispanics throughout the state with the Gospel, please visit LATINO Mission Society, in partnership with Global Lutheran Outreach and click on the GIVE button on the right.  To get involved or contact us directly, visit LATINO website. God’s peace and strength as you serve in your own backyards!  Sam and Brooke Orozco (Lucie, Karolein and Micah)