BY: CIERRA NALANI RICHARDS ’16
For this Pacific Lutheran University student, soccer and a relationship with Christ have always been her priorities. That’s why she was thrilled to be able to share both of these passions with the children of Mexico the summer before her senior year of high school.
Jessica Mason, a 19-year-old sophomore, was a part of a Caravan Ministries mission’s trip to Tijuana, Mexico in 2013. She traveled with Graham Emmanuel Baptist Church’s (GEBC) youth group which she was an active member of at the time. Mason said one of her mentors, Kim McDonald, was one of the female leaders.
Kim McDonald said, “Jessica’s strongest character traits are her integrity, love for others and her transparency to be authentic. Jessica gives a listening ear and helping hand and strives to live out her love for Jesus by unselfishly giving of her time, money, and resources to help others.”
Mason was an integral part of the group, for she had studied a year of Spanish in high school so many people on the trip looked to her to translate. She also went through all her jewelry before she left and picked out bracelets to share in Mexico. She said giving these bracelets to the children she met in Tijuana was something so simple but it meant so much to her.
About eight months before the trip, the team preparation began. She said the GEBC team, of 13 members, worked on spiritual preparation of what a team is and also what it means to enter another culture having grown up in the U.S. She said they participated in a spring retreat where they did a lot of team building with other church teams that they were going to be in Mexico with. She said that it was exciting to build not just their GEBC team but also the greater mission’s team.
The trip lasted two weeks in the beginning of July. Five days were spent in California first, then a week in Mexico and finally a couple more days in California to debrief about what God had done. Their time in California was spent worshipping and hearing sermons at Biola University, which according to their missions statement is “among the world’s foremost Christ-centered universities.”
Mason said one of her favorite aspects of the trip was playing soccer with the children of Mexico. The GEBC youth group brought soccer balls with them to share in Mexico that had the Romans Road verses written on them in Spanish. She said she felt like she was utilizing her gifts by playing with the children since soccer is her passion.
She said one of the girls they gave a soccer ball to came back and some parts of the verses were colored out. It was hard to communicate with this girl because of the language barrier but Mason said it appeared that her parents seemed to be censoring the gospel in a sense.
“It made me realize that this is a real battle that’s going on for these kids hearts. So that was a hard experience but I needed to see that,” Mason said.
Mason said she really wanted to go on this trip for the glory of God but also for the good of what God had to teach her.
“I remember one of the biggest hardships was surrendering my dreams in Mexico. I called out to God saying ‘Lord, where you send me, I will go,’” Mason said.
She said this was one of the first times she had honestly laid down what she wanted to do, all her dreams and all these ambitions, to fully give herself to the Lord.
“It was a really beautiful place where I got to make that surrender,” Mason said.