Local members of the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) recently joined a composite mission team in Tlancualpican in the state of Puebla, Mexico to increase understanding and awareness of outreach efforts with rural impoverished families in rural Mexico. The 10-day program was offered through the Give Ye Them To Eat (GYTTE) Mission project, which was founded in 1977 as a social outreach project of the Methodist Church of Mexico to combat hunger and poverty in the rural sector. The GYTTE programs is led by Global Ministries Missionaries Nan McCurdy, Miguel Mairena, and an excellent staff of 11 Mexicans plus 8 part-time workers when needed. The work aims to strengthen the capabilities of marginalized people and communities so they can meet their basic needs; and to determine and sustain a just and integrated development process.
Photo: Miguel Mairena, Sue Harriss, Nan McCurdy
The mission team participated in the A.W.A.R.E. program, an immersive cross-cultural work and study experience designed for teens and adults. Standing for Alternative Work-study And Reality Experience, the AWARE program focuses on the reality of life in rural Mexico as it relates to the issues of hunger, poverty, development, and global awareness, and introduces participants to the complexities and root causes of mass migration. The team of twelve, ranging from 17 to 86 years old, stayed and worked at The Tree of Life Training Center. For five days, the team received training on ecological construction techniques using local materials and used these new skills in action to help in the construction of a house for a local family as well as projects on the Tree of Life Training Center.
Six programs make up the GYTTE ministry, focused on limited-resource families in the rural sector of south-central Mexico – the poorest part. GYTTE uses participatory methods and development tools with people-centered approaches to create conditions in which change can take place from within the communities. GYTTE offers development opportunities in the areas of:
- Community and Family Health
- Community Development and appropriate technology
- Agricultural Development
- Livestock Development
- Church and Faith Development
- AWARE Program – a cross-cultural experience through work and study
During their trip, the team also explored the cities of Puebla, and Cholula visiting historical and archeological sites like the Cholula Pyramid – with the largest base in the world; and museums and churches to gain a further appreciation for Mexican culture and history. The team also worshipped and enjoyed fellowship at the Iglesia Metodista de Mexico Templo Getsemani in Tlancualpican, Mexico. UMVIM CalPac Coordinator Susan Harriss said these additional activities were integral to the trip as “part of the experience is becoming more aware of the world that we live in.” Harriss’ main purpose for participating was that “the better our cultural understanding of our neighbor, the more effective our ministry to the challenges such as rural poverty, hunger and development will be.”
Nan said that “this is an integral program that allows participants to get to know Mexicans and the root causes of migration to the United States. AWARE members begin to see some of the US policies that need to change if we want our neighbors to be able to stay home in Mexico – which is what they really want to do.” Miguel says that “working side by side Mexicans helps us see God in them and understand that when one of us is suffering, none of us can really be ok. Entering into their reality, even for a short amount of time allows US Methodists to have a transformative experience and see the need to attempt to follow Christ’s example.”
For more information about Give Ye Them To Eat, or to donate to their mission, visit their website: https://www.gytte.org/