Thanks for signing up to volunteer with a mission work group to Mexico! Whether this will be your first time working with us or your twentieth, it will be a week you won’t forget. You’ll find all the information you need to prepare for your trip here: safety, what to bring, clothing, traveling with respect, food & water, making local friends, and other friendly reminders; you’ll can also learn some Spanish before your trip and meet some of the people you’ll be working with! You can also download our pre-trip info packet, which includes all the information you find here. If you have any questions as you get ready, please feel free to email Colleen, our coordinator.
The safety of our mission work groups is our highest priority. The violence reported in the news is contained to certain areas of the city and has not affected the areas where we work. Because our staff in Mexico is all locals, they are very in tune with what’s going on and stay on top of everything going on around the city. We put the following measures in place to keep you safe at all times:
Crossing the Border
- Groups are escorted by a Faith Ministry staff member across the border to Mexico at the beginning of the week and back to the U.S. at the end of the week.
- If a situation arises and the staff deems it necessary to leave, the group will leave on the safest route to the border, escorted by a Faith Ministry staff member.
Staying in Mexico
- Staff members are at the complex and clinic at all times when a group is staying there, and the executive director is on-call if there is an emergency.
- Three employees guard the area where the group is staying, either the complex or clinic, all night to ensure the group’s safety.
Exploring the Area
- If someone in the group or the entire group wants to leave the complex or clinic, they must be accompanied a Faith Ministry staff member. This includes leaving in the van or by foot. If a youth group member wants to leave the complex, they must be with an adult.
- Groups should not leave the complex or clinic after dark; if the group wants to eat out at a restaurant in the area, we recommend going on the early side.
- In the case of a medical emergency, a Faith Ministry staff member will accompany any group member to the hospital in Reynosa or will cross the border into McAllen.
- There are several clinics, pharmacies and a hospital in Reynosa. However, if necessary, the complex and clinic in Reynosa are both less than 30 minutes from several hospitals in McAllen.
Our staff in Texas and Mexico can be reached at any time while you’re here; print and leave the emergency contact info sheet at home while you’re on your trip to make sure your loved ones can reach in case of emergency.
WHAT TO PACK
There will be a chance to stop at Walmart or a similar store in McAllen before crossing the border at the beginning of the week, so if there’s something you forget, don’t stress! Here are some important things to remember to pack:
- Up-to-date Tetanus booster
- Work boots & clothes
- Twin sheets & pillowcase
- Towel & washcloth
- Necessary medications
- Water bottle
- Sunscreen & hat
Bring casual, comfortable clothing. Work clothes should be comfortable and clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty (you will get dirty!).
- Shoes: Good work shoes are a must! It is recommended that you bring a pair of lace-up tennis shoes or work boots.
- Jewelry: Leave your jewelry at home; it is considered disrespectful to flaunt wealth by wearing expensive jewelry.
- DRESS RESPECTFULLY: Short shorts, spaghetti straps, racerback tanks, and other such clothes will be misunderstood. Please wear respectable and appropriate clothes for work and for church (if applicable).
TRAVELING WITH RESPECT
As with any experience in a new culture, be sure to travel with a spirit of humility and with a genuine desire to learn more about the people on your journey. Be sensitive to the feelings of other people, preventing what might be offensive behavior on your part. Cultivate the habit of listening and observing, rather than merely hearing and seeing. Acquaint yourself with local customs; people will help you. Spend time reflecting on your daily experiences in an attempt to deepen your understanding.
FOOD & WATER
One of the best ways to experience the culture and to get to know the people in the communities is to eat with them. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to eat with the families both at the complex and on the worksite. Be aware of the follow precautions:
Do NOT drink water from the tap. If someone offers you water, make sure it is purified (“está purificado?“). We have gallons of purified water and bags of purified ice available for the group’s use during your stay.
Chili & Hot Peppers
If you are sensitive to spicy food, ask if the food you are eating is spicy (“está picoso?“). Usually, spicy salsa is served on the side, so you can choose whether or not to eat it.
Some of the best parts of coming to Mexico are the relationships you build with the families and volunteers here. We love and strongly encourage this! There are a few things to keep in mind:
- Giving money: Please do not give money directly to families. All donations should be made through the main office in McAllen.
- Making promises: Please do not make promises that you may not be able to keep.
- Taking & sharing photos: You can share photos you take with your Mexican friends when you return home. You can mail them to our office at PO Box 756, McAllen, TX 78505.
OTHER FRIENDLY REMINDERS
- Toilet paper: Do NOT flush the toilet paper or any other paper items! You can dispose toilet paper and other products in the trashcans next ot the toilets in the bathrooms.
- Alcohol: There is NO alcohol or smoking allowed on or around Faith Ministry property.
- Money: You may need spending money for any meals out, shopping, and t-shirts, but we recommend you do NOT bring large sums of money. Bring small bills (most places here accept U.S. dollars). You can also use credit or debit cards at larger stores in Mexico. We accept cash, check or credi card for Faith Ministry t-shirts.
Even though you will have a bilingual Faith Ministry staff member with you in Mexico, it’s helpful to know un poquito español! Download our words & phrases cheat sheet to practice before your trip:
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK BEFORE YOUR TRIP!
And invite your family & friends to like us too! We’ll be posting pictures of your trip all week.