Methodist teens travel to Mexico City

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 7/16/96.

Eight teenagers representing the Grace United Methodist Church, Paynesville, traveled to Mexico City to witness their faith to the inner city people.
The teens and their chaperones left Minneapolis on June 27 and returned home July 5. Traveling to Mexico City were: Lynn Stoneburner, Mike Putzke, Andy Haglund, Kim Kloster, Angie Rien, Angie VanderBeek, Matt Koehn, and Jen Hedeen. Chaperones were Terry White, Angie Nord, and Janet Frederick.

Each day the group would be up by 7 a.m., have breakfast and Bible study and be ready to perform a puppet show at 11:30 a.m. They performed two puppet shows daily for the people.

"We had a lot better turnout than expected," Putzke said. With each show, more people attended. The numbers varied from 30 to 50 and people of all ages attended. "The puppet shows had strictly kids for an audience in the past," White said. "This year there were a lot of adults watching. Carl Johnson passed out salvation tapes to the adults in attendance."

Putzke said he noticed two gang members in the background one day. "They hung back from the others, but I went over to talk with them, but they wouldn't come closer," he said. "I got the feeling they didn't want others to know they were there."

Each evening, the teens headed to a different home in the area for home meetings. They prayed with the families, had a short sermon, they sang songs and presented their testimony.

"Compared to the last trip, this area was great. It was a totally different experience. Here it was too cold for cock roaches and other bugs," Haglund stressed. Haglund, Putzke, White, and Koehn were the only ones who had previously been to Mexico on another mission trip.
When asked about the trip, Kloster said it was a wonderful life changing experience. "The people there look at life in such a different perspective than we do," she said. "They are happy with their family, faith, and with what they have, no matter how little it might be."

The teens tried learning a little Spanish before leaving for Mexico City but said they learned more once they were there. Their translators join them in Mexico City.

In asking the teens what their most memorable experience was, many said the people. Putzke said seeing the kids watch the puppet show was memorable. "We had people of all ages there, from little kids to grandparents," he added.

Haglund said his most memorable experience was getting the chance to go a second time. Stoneburner said the people were very accepting of the teens. "They were very appreciative of the smallest things," she added.

VanderBeek was awed at how friendly the people were when they didn't know any of them. Rien was impressed with how many more kids came each day. "They really worship in a different way than we do. When they sing, they use their hands a lot and cry. Here, we're all smiles and are more happy," she said.

Kloster said the trip changed how she looks at her faith and life. "They have the strongest faith. I have never seen such people before. They share all their burdens and worries with God. They are a very humble people and happy with their way of life," she added.

Koehn said hearing his testimony through a translator at a home meeting was memorable. "They all listened so intently upon what I was saying," he stressed.

Majority of the teens agreed the trip was a faith enhancing experience. "It was a good atmosphere to see the kid's faith develop," White added.

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