Shoes, eyeglasses, construction, cooking, craft projects, conversation, laughter, a pizza feast and jungle visit. Step out of the comfort zone, mix it all together and it ignites some unforgettable memories for Friends of Cozumel volunteers and the people they serve. (click on photos to enlarge)
“The last two days of our Mexico mission trip were such an explosion of activity,” wrote Lisa from Maryland on her Facebook page. “We taught (Pastora) Mariela how to make egg bake and apple sauce so she can teach the mothers to make it for the babies. We went shoe shopping with our beautiful forever family and we had a blast! The smiles and joy was unbelievable! We had three awesome days of shoes and school supplies distribution. To know so many children will get a chance to succeed cannot be forgotten!”
After the third day of distribution, the number of children served has risen to 330. People in need showed up early, formed a line that went down the block and waited patiently despite the brutal heat. Adults were also offered magnifier reading glasses. Barefoot toddlers not yet ready for school were fitted with shoes as well.
“What a blessing,” said Ellen, a first-time FOC volunteer. “These people are so needy and so thankful.”
FOC works to identify the families most in need, working with pastors, two other Cozumel nonprofits and community leaders. School supplies and shoes are running low, but there is still one more day of distribution to go.
“We couldn’t do it without the help of so many local volunteers,” said Karen from the FOC leadership team.
As exhausting as the distribution process may be, the volunteers still have energy to explore beyond the tourist zone.
“We visited a church in the jungle where their young girls performed beautiful dances for us,” Lisa said. “It brought me to tears. Sometimes there is no language barrier. We had the privilege of talking with some of the women and found out that yes we are different but we have sooooo many of the same struggles.”
One of those shared struggles is feeding growing children. At the closing session of vacation Bible school, FOC volunteers saw just how much hungry kids can consume. The CREW team provided a lesson to the 100 or so children and adults using pizza as a metaphor for building faith. Then of course pizzas were served—eight gigantic pies with 40 slices each. Those 320 slices were gone within minutes.
“It brought so much joy to us to treat them to a pizza party,” said Dee from Delaware. “It’s crazy how something as simple as a pizza can be used to teach and bring so much happiness as the same time!” ~ Phyllis from Nebraska