The time spent at El Monte was life changing for many of the street Chavos (Spanish term given to the street children and young people) and of course for myself. When I arrived at the camp, the Chavos had already been there a while and were enjoying the beautiful area surrounding the camp, enjoying being out of the city, playing in the pool, playing carpet ball, taking showers and resting in the sun. The Chavos all said that they were really glad they could be in a calm and safe environment to relax and learn about God. Every day we had three awesome meals, great times of worship and great activities. One of the favourite activities during the morning was carpet ball. Carpet ball is a game played on a special table where there are two players who are trying to knock the other player’s pool balls off the table first. During the week, we had a tournament, which the Chavos loved!
As well as the MEFI team, some workers from the camp, and the team I was part of from Ohio, we also had a small team from Ambassadors in Football. So every afternoon, we would go play soccer on the fields at the camp. Everyone was having so much fun that we decided to have a tournament for that too. What was unexpected was the level of competition between the Chavos during the final between Team Blue(the team I was on) and Team Yellow, and it got very aggressive, especially between the Chavos on opposing teams. But the brotherhood (and sisterhood) really came out and that competitiveness was put aside after one of the Chavos, Pablo, got hurt. Everyone was right back to being best friends and trying to help to the best of their abilities. It was amazing to see them love one another so much, in sports, in games and most importantly in Christ. Not only did the various teams involved in leading the camp help with the spiritual growth of the Chavos, but I also saw the Chavos grow one another in community; it was beautiful to see them help each other in Christ, in Baptism, in worship and in their everyday lives they live the call of lifting each other up in community, growing and encouraging one another. The MEFI staff and volunteers are a huge element in creating that kind of culture. All of the testimonies I heard from the Chavos throughout the week, but especially around the camp fires, were so moving. The horrors and the triumphs they had seen were incredible. I have never experienced the level of spiritual warfare and physical struggles these young men and women had witnessed and had been a part of. I have so much respect for them accepting God and trying to overcome their problems through Him. They are very special people and I was not ready to see them go on the last day. They were so happy to be away from their struggles and in a healthy and safe environment, I didn’t want to see them go `home’. But eventually we had to leave. So, we said goodbye to them, knowing that God is watching out for His children, the ones who made a commitment to Christ and got baptised (Osiris, Miguel, Maite, Manuel, Juanito, Jessica, Daniela, Daniel (12yrs old), Jorge, Domingo, Pablo). Please keep them in your prayers, for protection from temptation and for safety on the dangerous streets of Mexico City.
Berkeley Chadwick OMS-Mexico Summer Intern