“Beeville,” they said enthusiastically.
“We’re feeling the love in Beeville, Texas” and “We’re having a blast!” were typical of their comments.
For the second consecutive year, Beeville’s First United Methodist Church has hosted a group of summer interns from Lydia Patterson Institute of El Paso.
On July 1, three boys from Juarez, Mexico, and three girls from El Paso arrived to stay with the families of FUMC Pastor Larry McRorey and three other church members.
The interns are Jacqueline Valdivia, 17, Israel Parada, 17, Blanca Salais, 16, Elias Dominguez, 17, Denisse Valencia, 16, and Gabriel Navarro, 16.
On Sunday, Aug. 5, the students will return to the Methodist institution, a Christian college-preparatory school in El Paso.
However, for that short span of time in South Texas, these young people have kept a whirlwind schedule of activities.
Fluent in Spanish and English, the teens:
• were counselors at a youth camp and attended a youth camp at Mount Wesley in Kerrville;
• worked for a week at the Beeville Vineyard, helping people pick clothes and check out;
• helped with The Table, sharing a hot meal and love of Jesus Christ with about 100 community members, and distributed Food Pantry items to the needy at FUMC;
• worked a rummage sale for the children’s ministry, and performed other jobs around the church, painting offices, organizing the food pantry and cleaning out storage facilities;
• played instruments and sang in a praise band at the early worship service on Sunday mornings;
• attended a Christian concert by Selah in San Antonio;
• traveled to the beach at Rockport and Mustang Island.
They were leaving last week for another camp, known as MAD – or music, art and drama – at Mount Wesley.
While in Kerrville previously at Quest camp, they sang with the Mark Swayze worship band from University UMC in San Antonio.
Also, they were returning to SA this week to attend Fiesta Texas.
Obviously, the youngsters were growing a bit weary from their hectic pace, but they revealed they have enjoyed meeting the people in Beeville.
In a small town, they said, “you go to H-E-B and everyone knows everyone.”
They also expressed effusive praise for the Methodist church and congregation here.
“It has the potential to be greater than it is now,” Elias said, adding that FUMC has a “wonderful pastor who makes decisions based on what’s more important to God than to the people.”
Blanca added, “Everyone has been so super nice to us. You have made us feel welcome.”
All six are involved in lay ministry at Lydia Patterson, which has about 400 students and graduates from 50 to 80 seniors each year.
That is how they wound up in Beeville, preferring being assigned to this small city over other destinations such as Dallas or London.
Pastor McRorey noted that the program’s goal is to have the students serve in ministry settings that take them out of their familiar surroundings, having them do a lot of different types of ministry.
He added that FUMC Beeville again this summer wanted to help bridge the cultural gap between a community that is predominantly Hispanic and a congregation that is mostly Anglo.
The students agreed that their group experience had been positive.
“If I could stay longer I would,” Jackie said.
Most of them want to go on and attend college. Some desire to enter a profession, like the medical field, where they can help people. Others are considering the music ministry.
Gabriel semi-joked that he wants to be a professional futbol (soccer) player, but added seriously, “My relationship with God has increased in a big way. It’s been a great experience. I want to say thanks to those who made this trip possible.”