Building Churches and Connection

Photo courtesy of Bethany Arabe.

A group of Point Loma Nazarene University students and staff members spent Spring Break 2023 across the border in Sonora, Mexico to build a church. A couple of students and a staff member shared their experience.

Third-year biochemistry major and Spanish minor Bethany Arabe said, “I have always wanted to be a part of a mission trip and have heard great stories from last year’s trip. I also wanted to get involved as an opportunity to meet new people from Point Loma and our neighboring country.” 

Third-year education major Haley Manning heard positive reviews from past builders. 

“I had a few friends who went last year and told me how much they loved it. I also remember seeing promo videos from the build prior to attending Loma and thought it would be a good chance to serve those over the border and get to know new people from school,” said Manning. 

Director of Nicholson Commons Milton Karahadian is a veteran in the spring break build.

“I have gone for at least seven years and continue to go to build relationships with students and faculty,” Karahadian said.

Each volunteer would begin their day early and work alongside each other at various stations that contributed to the project. 

 “We would start around 7:20 a.m. to drive to the site. Once there, we would have a time for devotions, worship and breakfast. Afterward, the work would start and each person helped wherever they saw a need, whether that be filling foam blocks with cement, insulation, or hammering the roof together. We’d take a break for lunch and then continue work until sundown, despite being offered more breaks in between. We all wanted to keep working,” Arabe said.

Although the build was laborious, the experience was impactful for both the volunteers and the residents in Mexico. 

“I was deeply moved to see the Church connecting beyond borders despite language differences,” Manning said. “Both the volunteers and residents in Mexico were so joyful, loving and passionate about serving. It was a reminder of the ways that we are all united under the same God and we aren’t that different from each other.” 

“As Christians, we are called to serve and this was another chance to be like Jesus and do like Jesus which always makes an impact,” Karahadian said.

Sometimes, big projects can present challenges. 

“One task that I found difficult was putting stucco on the walls because it dried quickly, making it hard to apply. However, it taught me how to work fast yet patiently,” Arabe said. 

“Something that was challenging for me was pushing myself to talk to new people, as I did not know most of the team prior to the trip. I found myself gravitating towards familiar people, but I realized that it was such a gift to get to know new people that I would have never met before,” Manning said.

Getting outside of comfort zones can be scary, but the spring break build proved to be a valuable experience for both students and faculty workers. 

“You will leave the spring break build with more memories, friends and love for God than you can imagine. Even when you feel insecure to build a church and be a part of something like this, remember that God saved the unqualified and calls them to be His hands and feet,” Arabe said.

“Unless you stretch yourself, you will never grow. It all depends on us being willing to,” Karahadian said.

“Point Loma is full of amazing people, but this trip gives you the chance to meet new ones and develop meaningful relationships. It can feel awkward at first, but it is so worth it because you can bring different strengths and skills together to serve God and His people,” Manning said.

For more information on the Spring Break Build or Ministry with Mexico, contact mexicoprograms@pointloma.edu.

Written By: Megan Lonsdale