Global Urban Trek – Mexico City 2010
The Purpose of the Global Urban Trek is to call participants to use their gifts and
vocation to live and serve alongside the urban poor after graduation, beginning with
at least two years.
Student Manual Part I – Introduction, Program, Communication
We would like to again welcome you to the Mexico City team! We have all taken
different paths to get to this point. Some of you knew God was calling you to Mexico City, others
saw God work through a change of plans. However we got here, we can be sure that the Spirit
has guided each of us to come together as a team that will serve God, our placement
communities, and each other this summer. You have all heeded God’s call to leave behind
family, friends, summer jobs, and vacation time to allow him to mold and shape you in the slums
of Mexico City. This summer will be intense, heart-wrenching, uplifting, frustrating,
encouraging, fun, hard work – and, if we are open to God’s leading, a life-changing experience.
This manual will include information you will need as you dive into trip preparation over
the next several weeks. Please ensure that you read each section carefully and let me know if
you have any questions.
The Global Urban Trek Vision – by Scott Bessenecker, Global Urban Trek Director
When Jesus sent out the disciples in Luke 9 he said some interesting things. He
commanded them not to take basic things they would need like extra clothes and money.
Apparently he wanted them to be desperately dependent upon God and the kindness of the
people whom they were called to serve. Jesus also said not to move around from house to
house but to stay in one home and eat whatever was set before them. He seems to have wanted
them to connect as deeply as possible to one family. Finally, Jesus said to cure the sick people in
the household and tell them that the Kingdom of God had come near to them -- the Kingdom
had come near to them -- what an interesting phrase. It is my conviction that the Kingdom of
God came near to the people to whom Jesus sent the disciples because the disciples had come
near to them. The Kingdom was present in her citizens.
The Global Urban Trek was borne out of one overriding conviction - to raise up flesh and
blood followers of Jesus to incarnate the gospel to the urban poor. The problems of poverty are
not essentially economic ones though wealth and business and banking are aspects that need
careful attention. The problems of poverty are not essentially educational although creating
learning opportunities may be vitally important. The central problem isn't even the government
or multi-national corporations although the misuse of power is something the Church ought to
be addressing vigorously. The primary issue is one of despair. Despair is an unmerciful tyrant,
and I am convinced that Jesus Christ is the only satisfying answer to the question of despair. The
arrival of God's Kingdom is good news. It is full of hope, and that kind of hope is not conveyed
very well through a program, it is conveyed through living creatures. People to take up residence
alongside the despairing.
The Trek is essentially about opening up an opportunity for God to call some of us to go
and spend our lives among the poor as his couriers of hope. This summer we may simply be able
to offer a cup of cold water to those in need. We may also have the privilege of solidarity with
the poor. But most importantly, we can lean into Christ as he speaks to us on how he wants us
to spend the remainder of our lives. Each summer about 30 - 40% of the participants respond by
pledging at least two years to serve the urban poor. Many will go on to spend their lives among
them. As you check out this website, pray for the mobilization of 1000 Mother Teresas. Perhaps
you are one of them!
The Objectives of the Mexico City Trek
The primary objective of the Global Urban Trek (hereafter Trek), as you can discern in
Scott’s vision for the TREK, is to provide students with an opportunity to respond to God’s call to
long-term ministry among the urban poor. Even though God may not call all of you to
specifically living among and serving with the urban poor as part of your career, it is our belief
that God, through scripture, calls all Christians to a life work of caring for the “least of these”.
Your career may not allow you to work directly with the urban poor – but your finances,
volunteer time, prayer life, and advocacy abilities enable you to engage in life-long ministry
serving the poor and marginalized. Therefore, the TREK is about calling each of us to long-term
ministry to the urban poor, some as their primary vocation, and others as an essential part of
their Christian life.
The core objective of the Trek is achieved through two secondary objectives. 1. To give
students an experience of working with ministry partners who are dedicated to serving people
suffering in poverty, and the ability to work directly with and build relationships with people
suffering in poverty. 2. To start students discussing and thinking about all of the issues
surrounding poverty (urbanization, globalization, consumerism, foreign policy, etc.) and
Christian responses to poverty and those issues.
Additionally, there are many other objectives that are a part of any short-term mission
trip. These include – emphasizing the importance of Christian community, encouraging students
to think critically about their own culture from a vantage point that is “outside the fishbowl”,
developing a larger vision of the Church, developing a reliance on God through prayer and
The Mexico City Trek program consists of four main components – Orientation, Ministry
Placements, Team Retreat, and Debriefing.
Orientation – The TREK begins in Mexico City on June 16th at Orientation, with the other Latin
America and Africa treks. If you tune out during orientation or do not take it seriously your
experience in Mexico City will suffer. Orientation will start the discussion about poverty and
provide you tools for making your placement experience a fruitful one. There will also be lots of
logistical matters taken care of during orientation. Then, as a team, we will have a two to three
day orientation that will include items specific to the Mexico City Trek as well as orientation to
the city itself.
Ministry Placements – The majority of your time in Mexico City will be spent at your placement
sites. At these sites you will have the opportunity to learn about urban poverty and ministry
from our ministry partners who have experience working with people and communities
experiencing poverty. It is your opportunity to build relationships with the people you are
serving and learn directly from people in poverty about their experiences. It is here, in the
encounter between students and the urban poor, where God will work at shaping your heart.
Team Retreat – midway through our time in Mexico City the team will get back together for four
days for a team retreat and some theology classes. These days will accomplish three main
1. There will be time for debriefing of the first half of the trip, a time for you to share your
praises and struggles, highs and lows, within a caring community. The retreat gives you an
opportunity to talk with other students and leaders about your experience and discern how
you can go into the second half of the trip better able to build relationships in your
community and learn from your ministry partners.
2. A main component of the retreat will be the continued discussion of poverty and Christian
response. We will do this through scripture study and some teaching time/discussion.
3. The team retreat gives you a chance to rest and refresh for the second half of the trip. The
placement can be an intense experience (and so can the constant work of speaking Spanish
and building relationships) and the retreat gives you an opportunity to be spiritually
refreshed through worship and prayer in the team community. We will also have an
opportunity to spend a bit of time just hanging out and exploring the retreat location.
Debriefing – there will be debriefing times on the retreat and during the last week in Mexico City
as our Mexico City team. However, the Debriefing in Mexico City that includes the other Latin
America and Africa treks marks an important point in the Trek. It is a time to reflect on your
journey in Mexico City and to start asking tough questions about how to integrate what you
have learned into your life. It is a time to seek God’s call on your life and discern if he may be
calling you to a particular vocation among marginalized people. It is a time for the speakers and
leaders to give you tools for processing the Trek – and the processing of the Trek continues long
after debrief is over if you are serious about letting God use it to influence your life. It is a time
for praise and thanksgiving to God, and for goodbyes and farewells to friends.
Here is a tentative schedule for the month. “Tentative” because this is if everything
goes according to plan – and things tend to change more frequently and with less notice in
Mexico. If you are a very flexible, “take it as it comes” type of person then you will feel right at
home in Mexico City. However, if you are a person who really needs to stick with a set plan you
will probably be challenged this summer. So, view this schedule, and every other schedule you
see this summer, as tentative. Of course the Mexico City orientation and debrief dates are
June 16th – 21st – Launch Site Orientation in Mexico City
June 21st – 23rd – Team Orientation in Mexico City
June 22rd – July 2nd – students at placement sites
July 2nd – July 5th – Mid-project Retreat
July 5th – July 23rd – students at placement sites
July 23rd – July 25th – Team Debriefing in Mexico City
July 26th – July 30th – Launch Site Debriefing in Mexico City
During the placement time the team will split up into 4 groups and each group will serve
at a different ministry site. The students will stay with the same site – i.e. you will not switch
sites each week. We will be working with some amazing Christian organizations in Mexico City
that have a heart to serve people and communities in poverty. At your placement site you will
have the opportunity to learn about urban ministry from passionate and experienced people
who have dedicated their lives to serving marginalized people. You will also be able to build
relationships with people and see that “the poor” is not a homogenous category, but that every
person suffering from poverty has a face and a story – and with the leading of the Spirit you will
discover how God wants you to shine the hope of the gospel into the darkness of poverty and
We are presently in communication with the ministry sites about placement
assignments. However, because plans can change (sites may change their mind about numbers,
etc.) we will wait until closer to the trip before we let you know the final assignments. Below
are short descriptions of each placement site. They each have their own unique characteristics,
but they are all great sites.
IMPORTANT – Please do not email any of the ministries about how you’ll be working with
them this summer. We are still finalizing our partnerships for the summer and it would be
damaging to our relationship with them if they were to receive emails from students claiming to
be working with them through the Trek before we actually have the firm commitments. Once
the placements are determined some of the ministry sites may wish to have contact with you via
I won’t write too much on Amextra because they have a detailed website. The
organization was started about twenty years ago by a COMPA (the Mexican IVCF) graduate and
its purpose is holistic community transformation – educational, spiritual, physical, financial –
through a wide variety of programs. The plan is to have students work at their Las Lomas de San
Isidro site. www.amextra.org
The Latin American arm of World Vision, the international Christian aid organization that
works with the poor all over the world. Lots of info on their website – it’s in Spanish, but you
can look at the International site to get an idea of mission, values, program, etc. in English. The
types of programs are similar to Amextra – spiritual and educational enrichment, health
programs, economic programs, etc. Visión Mundial has a few sites in Mexico City, but we will
most likely be working in the Tulpetlac and/or the Coatitla communities.
This organization was started by a Mexican Christian couple who saw that the vast
majority of evangelical churches in Mexico City were neglecting ministry to the poorest
neighbourhoods. They have three community centres in Mexico City, and our group will be
working at the Presidentes community centre. Armonia is focused on building relationships in
the community and working with community members to discover the best plans for creating a
better quality of life for the community. They also run Christian education programs for
children, and their centres are a place where many of the community’s children gather.
Servant Partners has teams engaged in church planting/community transformation in
several mega-cities around the world. The Mexico City team recently started work and we will
be partnering with them for the first time. They are engaged in training of church leaders, ESL,
Bible studies, and community organization. Their website contains detailed information,
including some files for download specific to their Mexico City team.
What Will Students Be Doing?
Students become volunteers with their placement organization and are under the
supervision of the ministry workers. The most common activities that students participate in are
children’s programs (games, homework clubs, dramas, Christian education) and teaching
English. These are tasks that are easier for students without advanced Spanish skills (or specific
ministry training) to participate in. Additionally, our partners inform us that these are areas
where they appreciate the help that the students provide – i.e. this is not the creation of ‘busy
work’ just so you have something to do, children’s programs and ESL are part of what these
ministries regularly provide. However, it is important to remember that these programs are just
a part of the work these organizations are doing in the communities – your task is to learn, from
your ministry partners, the whole story of how God is using them to transform these
communities (past, present, and future).
Remember that the ultimate purpose of your being in Mexico City is to experience
ministry in a setting of urban poverty, to learn what God is doing in that context, and to discern
how God is calling you to minister to the urban poor. In that sense, being is more important
than doing, and building relationships with the people you meet in the community and sharing
the love of Christ with them is more important than completing tasks.
Here’s the tentative plan for accommodation.
Mexico City Orientation/Debrief - Casa de los Amigos (a Quaker run hostel).
Armonia Group – at the Armonia community center.
Visión Mundial Group – host families
Servant Partners Group – host families
Amextra Group – host families
This section details the TREK policy for students contacting home during the Trek.
Understand that these policies are not designed to restrict your freedom, but primarily to
facilitate better relationships with your placement sites and the team. We are only serving in
Mexico City for a short time and our focus should be on building relationships with the people
we are serving and the team. Spending time and energy in constant communication with people
back home draws us away from the task at hand.
The TREK policy is that no team members are to make phone calls home – unless it is to
a spouse – during the Trek. There are two main reasons for this.
1. Allowing phoning would enable students to focus on their already established relationships
with family and friends instead of doing the hard work of building relationships with the
team and nationals. Additionally, the mere task of planning the phone call takes focus away
from the Trek – organizing when to call, buying phone cards, encountering frustration when
the time you planned to call is not possible because of a change of plans.
2. Phone communication could cause unnecessary stress for your parent(s). For example, you
are experiencing culture-shock and having a really hard day and you talk to your parent and
unload all your frustrations and difficulties with the new culture. A couple of days later
you’ve had a chance to talk with other team members and debrief and are feeling a lot
better. Meanwhile your parent is distraught because they think you’re having a terrible
time, and they want to help and cannot and are stressed, and will not know that you are fine
and it was just a bad day until a week later when you call again.
The exception to this policy is in the case of an emergency.
Email poses the same problem as the phone in that it can become a way to escape from
the hard work of adjusting to the culture and building relationships. However, because you can
review what you write before sending, it does not pose the same problem as the telephone in
the case of causing undue stress to those at home. Additionally, it is good to be able to send
some prayer requests and updates to your support group (besides the team updates we will be
sending). Therefore, we allow a modest amount of emailing according to the following
1. You will be able to email the first or second day we arrive during our Mexico City
orientation. Note – We will definitely email the evening we arrive to let all your parents
know we arrived safely.
2. You will be able to email during the debriefing in Mexico City to let your parents know we’re
on schedule heading back to the US and send an update to prayer support groups.
3. On the mid-project retreat you will get time to email so you can send updates and prayer
items to your support team, and email your family.
4. You should NOT be emailing while you are at placement - focus on your commitment to
serve and build relationships instead. Save the emailing for the retreat.
Letters and Postcards
Feel free to write letters and postcards to family and friends. If your family or friends
want to send you a letter let them know that they should send it before July if they want to have
a good chance of it getting to Mexico City before we leave. In previous years we have had a lot
of mail come in after we left.
They can address letters to . . .
Your Name c/o Katye Crawford
Casa de los Amigos
Ignacio Mariscal 132, Col. Tabacalera
México D.F. 06030
Encourage your family and friends to Track the Trek at www.globalurbantrek.org during
the Trek as the site will be periodically updated with photos and journal entries. We will choose
the journal writer before orientation.
Webpage - Track the Trek
Every Trek city will choose one or two students who will maintain a blog on behalf of the
team. This student should be a good writer and communicator, as they will be documenting the
summer on behalf of the entire team. A video blogger can also be chosen. They will blog at least
weekly about all of the team activities focusing on what they are learning about God’s love for
the poor and for the team. When possible, the blogger will also include appropriate pictures.
The blogger and the director will receive specific information on how to update the blog.
The blog can be updated by the student either via direct email, or through the director.
The director needs to read each blog to make sure that it is sensitive and appropriate for public
publishing before sending it to the editor. Any photos that are included need to have the
expressed permission of the person shown for publishing on the Trek website. Students have
already signed a release form allowing us to post their photos.
The blogger needs to be selected before departure to Launch Sites, and the name,
email, and photo of the blogger should be sent to Trek@intervarsity.org no later than one week
before the Trek begins.
Students can invite their friends, families, and donors to Track the Trek at the Trek homepage.
Prayer/Update Email List
Hopefully you are collecting the email addresses of your prayer and financial supporters
(obviously many people are in both groups) so you can send them updates during
orientation/mid-project retreat/debrief. You will have very limited access to the web, as it is
usually very slow and does not upload data at the speeds you are used to in the United States.
For this reason, we encourage you to give your email list to a friend or relative who can forward
any emails they receive which you may not have been able to send to your entire list.
Global Urban Trek – Mexico City 2010
Student Manual Part II – Packing and Health Concerns
As you know from reading about the Global Urban Trek on the website, we have several
packing restrictions to which not all mission trips ascribe. There is a temptation to take these
restrictions personally as an infringement on one’s individual liberty. However, challenging
individual freedom is not the reason for the restrictions. Through experience the Trek directors
have learned that allowing students to bring certain items can cause difficulties between
placement ministries and students, result in barriers to building relationships with the urban
poor, and defeat the purpose and uniqueness of the Trek experience. In the sections to follow I
will outline what to bring and what not to bring – and give explanation when necessary.
Like the disciples in Luke 9 we will be packing very light (though not as light as they did).
We pack light because we want to rely on the hospitality of our hosts and not arrive at their
doorstep with two huge bags full of stuff for every eventuality – which would only emphasize
the gulf between our financial capacities. Additionally, we are not going out to the bush, but to
the second largest city in the world – if something breaks, tears, runs out, etc. we can easily
The airline allows a carry-on bag and a purse/satchel/small over-the-shoulder bag into the cabin
– and that is what we will be taking. Please fit all that you’re bringing in a carry-on bag. You will
need to be able to carry this around with you on public transportation in the city. Your “purse”
should be an over-the-shoulder bag that you can use to carry what you need for the day –
sunscreen, water bottle, etc. Please note that ideally, you would pack all of your summer
belongings in a bag no bigger than your book bag (and it will make it much easier to carry, as
rolling carry-ons do not roll on the unpaved streets and warrens of our hosts'
Please do not show up to orientation with a 40+ liter huge hiking backpack. For my carry-on I’m
just using my school backpack which is about 20-25L capacity.
Because of liquid restrictions on the plane, we recognize that you might not be able to carry on
your bag due to things like contact solution or shampoo. Even if you end up checking your bag,
it should still be the size of a carry on bag.
Secure Money/Passport Pouch
You should also have a concealed money pouch where you can keep your passport,
money, emergency contact information, etc. The pouch is worn underneath your outer clothing
and the two main styles are around the waist or over the shoulder/across the chest. Once we
get to Mexico City your passport will be securely locked away, but you should probably continue
to use the pouch if you have money on you. One thing you might want to do is to have a “fake”
wallet as well – with just a couple of dollars in it. If someone happens to “ask for your wallet”
they will think they are getting all your money. Students – most days you will hardly have any
money on you so the fake wallet is optional for you.
Directors/Staff – because you will be handling more money you need to have a fake wallet.
Make THREE photocopies of your passport, leave one copy with your parents and bring
the other copies and your actual passport to orientation. We will keep a copy, and you will keep
a copy for yourself. Of course you need to have your actual passport to get into Mexico.
Clothing and Clothing Restrictions
There are two main restrictions on clothing. The first is – do not bring a ton of clothing
(this is mostly restricted by the size of your carry-on anyway). If you wear a new outfit for ten
straight days you will not be impressing anyone, only emphazing your own personal wealth to
the people you are serving. A lot of the people we will be ministering to do not have closets
stuffed with clothing as many of us do. It is best to bring 2-3 shirts and pairs of pants which you
can wear multiple times before washing (and you will be hand washing your own clothes), but
enough underwear and socks so you always smell decent . Even though you are bringing a small
amount of clothing, it should not be extremely casual clothing – i.e. ripped jeans and an old
camp T-shirt. For example, many of the men in the communities you will be living in typically
wear short sleeve collared shirts (golf shirts or button-up). Think casual day at the office,
professional without being too fancy.
The second clothing restriction is on revealing and/or provocative clothing. Our ministry
partners have emphasized this restriction and it is non-negotiable. The citizens of Mexico City
wear pants – only tourists wear shorts. We will be wearing pants – women can wear long skirts
(past the knee), but only bring one as it may not be practical at your placement. No tank-tops,
no shirts that show cleavage, no shirts that bare the midriff, no excessively tight shirts, no shirts
with obscene, vulgar, or offensive language or images, no really tight pants. Christian
communities in the vast majority of other countries dress very conservatively; let us respect our
Mexican brothers and sisters by honoring their request for us to do so as well. Also, be aware
that you will be hand washing and line drying the clothing you bring – clothing will get stretched
out and not shrink back the way it would in a dryer. (We’ll pick up laundry detergent when we
get there.) You may want to leave V-neck shirts at home and bring a belt.
The Packing List – What to Bring.
Before the list, a brief note on the weather in Mexico City. The weather is temperate
year round due to the high elevation. Temperatures will not get much higher than the mid 70’s
(mid 20’s centigrade), but the rainfall is highest in June and July. Afternoon showers are
common for these months, and the previous Mexico City team found that it rained about 30
minutes almost every day. Also, keep in mind that lightweight, dark clothing is best – dark
colors hide dirt better and lighter materials will air dry faster. Also be aware that jeans take a
long time to dry.
This list contains the essentials and you should be able to fit it all into your carry-on and
“purse”. This is not a starting point, but an exhaustive list of items to bring. You may bring less,
but not more (except for extra underwear and socks, if you have room).
Pack – All of these items should fit into an airline carry-on regulation size bag
1 carry-on bag and a purse/satchel/Back pack
Airline carry-on regulation size: The maximum combined linear measurement (L + W +
H) of the carry-on bag is 45 inches (115 cm) up to 14 in x 9 in x 22 in. The maximum
weight of the carry-on bag is 40 pounds (18 kg).
• 2-3 pairs of nice pants (have at least one non-jeans pair, women can substitute a long skirt
for one of the pairs.)
• 3-4 shirts (collared shirts/blouses)
• 1 sweater or sweatshirt,
• 1 really light jacket or rain poncho or umbrella
• 1 modest pair of pajamas
• 5 pairs of underwear/bras
• 3-5 undershirts
• 4-5 pairs of socks
• 1 pair of sturdy running shoes – you will be doing a lot of walking and some of the
placements will involve going up and down unpaved hills as the neighborhoods are built on
the mountain side.
• Optional – if you think you need a pair of sandals as well, and can fit them, then go ahead -
but do not bring only sandals. Sandals are for inside and the mid-project retreat – for
safety reason you will NOT wear sandals outside at your placement site.
• Optional – one pair of modest athletic shorts, for playing soccer with kids.
• 1 hat or bandanna to keep the sun off your head
• shampoo and conditioner (don’t bring a huge container)
• toothpaste, toothbrush, floss (go with the small tube of toothpaste)
• shaving gear
• feminine products
• hand sanitizer
• eye glasses, contacts and solution (if needed)
• Personal health kit: small Pepto Bismol, aspirin/Tylenol, allergy/prescription medication, and
a couple of band-aids (you do not need a whole first-aid kit as the team will have one of
those for each group)
• Insect repellant
• Your Bible (if you have a Spanish/English Bible bring that one)
• The Trek Journal (and if you write a lot, another small journal) – the Trek Journal will be
given to you at Orientation
• The New Friars, Quest for Hope, and another book of you choice
• a couple of pens or pencils (do not bring a ton of office supplies)
• a watch with an alarm/alarm clock
• Sturdy water bottle
• SMALL flashlight
• Optional – ear plugs (in case people snore)
• Spanish-English dictionary
• A few photos of your family, friends, city (make sure the photos do not show excessive
wealth or people in revealing clothing)
• 3 copies of your passport (don’t forget to leave one at home!)
• Emergency credit card (will be collected by the directors at Orientation, to be used only
when traveling between home and the Launch Site)
You may bring a small gift(s) for a family that you may get to know. Small inexpensive
things like postcards, magnets, candles, etc. are great. You may also want to bring something to
give to your ministry supervisors. Some ideas are: T-shirt from your city or school, a puzzle (put
pieces in a plastic bag with cut-out picture), deck of cards with picture of your city, etc. Stick
with things that are small and non-breakable.
What You Do Not Need to Bring
There are many things that you might think of bringing “just in case” – scissors, glue,
sewing kit, large flashlight, etc. Please do not bother – if you really need these things your
ministry site or host family probably has them. They just take up space and often go unused.
Also, you do not need to bring any linens (towels, sheets, etc.) because the guest house we are
staying at supplies them and you will otherwise be staying at the ministry site where they will
take care of you.
This includes not needing to bring anything to purify or clean water. You will not need
iodine tablets, water purifiers or anything else. Though we’re sure you’ve heard that water in
Mexico City is not safe to drink, our hosts know this too, and you will be drinking bottled or
otherwise purified water.
What You CANNOT Bring
We do not allow these items because they enable students to “escape” from building
relationships with people and exploring the culture and/or reinforce the difference in wealth
between the students and the urban poor and thereby become barriers to relationship.
Additionally, many of these items were highlighted by our ministry partners as things students
should leave at home.
Do NOT bring
• walkmans, discmans, cell phones, mp3 players, ipods, portable video games, and all other
similar electronic devices. Note: feel free to bring a couple of CDs of worship music that you
can share with your host family/community.
• curling irons, flat irons, hair dryers, and hair products other than shampoo/conditioner
• Alcohol, recreational drugs, firearms, and weapons of any sort.
• cameras – The Trek is about working alongside the urban poor, not treating them or their
communities as tourist sites. Every group will get to borrow the team digital camera to take
some pictures, but only after they have built relationships in their community – then they
will be taking pictures of friends, not objects. At the end of the Trek we will burn you a CD
with all of the pictures.
• Cosmetic make up
• credit cards, bank cards, etc (except for your emergency credit card). See money section
The guideline for Trek teams is for students to bring $30 maximum of spending money,
and no credit cards, bankcards, traveller’s checks, etc. We will be following that guideline – so
bring $30 maximum for spending money. In the past some students have embarked on the
challenge to bring no personal money at all and I encourage you to think about doing that
Some comments on the spending money policy.
1. The only thing your spending money is used for is comfort snacks (e.g. chocolate bar),
souvenirs, postcards, and Internet cafes – everything else is covered by the Trek budget.
$30 easily covers sending some email, a few “comfort” snacks, and some small
souvenirs/postcards for your immediate family.
2. This is not a shopping trip - if you are buying souvenirs you will probably only get some for
your immediate family. Although, in the past students have been creative with their
resources and brought back more souvenirs. One Trek student bought a lot of tissue
packages from a lady in the street and then wrote a little card asking people to pray for the
lady, which she included with each tissue package. She then gave these away to family and
friends as “souvenirs”. Personal souvenirs often end up being crafts made with children or
gifts from people at your ministry site – and will hold more value than anything you buy in a
3. Part of the reason for the money policy is to bring you as close as possible to the experience
of not having your own resources. Obviously you still have your own resources at home, but
without your bank/credit cards you do not have access to them for a few weeks. Also, you
do not need to have these cards “in case of an emergency” during the Trek – the team
budget has additional emergency funds, and IVCF can send more if needed. Students will
also be given some emergency team money that they will keep with them for certain
circumstances – e.g. you get lost and need to catch a cab to the nearest metro station.
4. Another reason for this policy is that students can use money to subvert their relationship
with their hosts. A good example is the use of money for snacks. If students have a lot of
money then they can eat most of their food through snacks and then avoid eating a lot of
the food that their host family prepares if they do not find it as palatable as their snack food.
This breaks down trust and relationship (cooking food for a guest is extremely important in
Latin American culture – if you refuse your host family’s food you are refusing their
hospitality). We want to eat what is set before us, as the disciples did in Luke 9.
Final Thoughts on the Packing Policies
Sometimes students see these policies as arbitrary impositions by Trek directors too
focused on curtailing personal freedoms and expressions. However, there are two fallacies with
that line of thinking. First, these policies are not abstract rules devised by the Trek leadership,
but are based on the combined experience of all the Trek directors over the past several years.
The policies change and evolve as the Trek leadership discovers how trust with the ministries
and the urban poor is built and how it is broken. Second, the directors are not focused on
curtailing personal freedoms, but on maintaining good relationships with the ministry partners
for future years and facilitating the best possible encounter between students and the people
they will be serving. Ministry partners let us know that revealing clothing and displays of wealth
through lots of clothes and expensive make-up are barriers to building relationships and thereby
barriers to serving people in poverty. Directors in past years have found that student
withdrawal from the team and host families is enabled by mp3 players, and that when students
have too much money they focus on finding all the perfect souvenirs for family and friends. The
policies are rooted in reality and if our team follows them then we will be eliminating barriers to
building great relationships at our ministry sites and ensuring that our ministry partners will
want to partner with the Global Urban Trek in the future.
We find that most students see the value of these policies and why we have them and
see it as a way for God to use the summer to challenge their dependence on certain things.
However, there always seems to be one or two students per team that take the restrictions
personally and either covertly or overtly disrespect the Trek leadership. E.g. – one year a young
woman wore a semi-see-though shirt in a city where that kind of clothing was exceedingly
unacceptable – and would not stop wearing it even after the director asked. We pray that God
would be encouraging and challenging us now to commit to the policies and that we would have
a team in which everyone is on board with policies and in solidarity with each other for the
summer. Take some time to read through all the policies again and ask God to reveal what area
you may be tempted to disobey. God desires us to build relationship and serve and love the
people we work with this summer. Therefore, Satan will strike at those areas that will break
down trust, and will use our weaknesses to do so. For some of you it may be personal
appearance – you are concerned about the restrictions on clothing and make-up. For some it
may be feeling secure with your resources and the fact that you will only have $30 of your own
money is disconcerting. For others you are worried you will have trouble without your music.
Take the opportunity this summer to leave all that behind, all the things we often rely on for
security and identity - clothing, music, money, appearance - and enter into solidarity with the
poor. Let us put our trust completely in God, let Him provide our security and identity, and
through our relationships with our Mexican brothers and sisters let the Spirit transform us.
This section contains a few health related items. Please read it carefully.
Double-check your medical insurance plan and confirm that you have at least $50,000 of
coverage for medical care. As part of the Trek budget we get campers’ insurance for each team
member, which will cover small things like a visit to the doctor and also emergency evacuation
to the United States. However, your own plan needs to be able to cover longer hospital stays
and medical procedures. We will be sending an email asking you to confirm your coverage. If
you do not have a medical plan with at least $50,000 coverage, you can purchase a plan via
InterVarsity does not require you to get immunizations for The Global Urban Trek and
does not cover the costs for your immunizations. We do strongly recommend that you get the
immunizations recommended by the CDC. These may be covered by your health insurance.
There are travel clinics that specialize in giving you all the info you would need for staying
healthy overseas. You can also check into your campus health center or your family doctor to
see about getting the proper immunizations. The Center for Disease Control suggests the
Available at the county health department (this is cheaper than the hospital/doctor):
Hepatitis A – If you get 2 doses you will have a life-long immunity.
Hepatitis B – If you get all 3 doses you will have life-long immunity.
Typhoid – A single dose will provide immunity for 2 years.
Water bottles & dehydration
Your water bottle should be sturdy, plastic or metal, and portable (camping bottle or
Tupperware). A warning about dehydration: you should make sure that you drink 64 fluid
ounces a day (8 8oz. Cups.) Dehydration can make you feel as if your energy is zapped out of
Note for vegetarians and/or vegans
Please note that you may not be able to decide the type of you will have access to.
Many places where we will be eating do not offer vegetarian or vegan options. Eating what our
hosts serve is a wonderful opportunity to be blessed by our hosts and to share in their culture
and hospitality. Students and staff who participate on the Global Urban Trek are expected to eat
everything that is served by our hosts unless there is a life threatening allergy.
If you have prescription medication make sure to bring enough for the entire trip, and if
possible bring extra and keep it in a different place than your primary container (in case you lose
your medicine). Leave the medication in the original container (or at least have the prescription
label) as the customs inspectors may confiscate them if they are in an unmarked case.
Altitude and Air Pollution
The combination of altitude and air pollution may affect your ability to engage in
rigorous activity in Mexico City. Do not overexert yourself, especially in the first week or so. If
you have asthma bring extra medication, even if you do not normally need to use your inhaler
very often. It is better to have too much than to run out if you find the air pollution causes your
asthma to be worse than usual.
To be quite frank – all of you can expect to have diarrhea at some point this summer.
For most of us it will be triggered by a change in food (and also the change in bacteria that
inhabits food and water – different ones than we are used to). You can prepare your digestive
system by eating a lot of yogurt before we leave. If you are experiencing diarrhea than be sure
to drink plenty of water – and we will get you some “gatorade” type drink and/or rehydration
packages as well. However, there is a chance that you may experience the type of diarrhea that
is caused by a more serious bacteria – this sickness is sometimes called Montezuma’s Revenge
(fitting, since we will be living in the city that was built on top of his city). If you get this you will
know – explosive diarrhea often accompanied by vomiting – basically your body is saying “okay,
everybody out”. If you get this then you’ll definitely be seen by a doctor and most likely go on
antibiotics. Odds are Montezuma will get his revenge on only one person this summer – but you
need to know about it so you can alert someone if you think you might be the one. Also, if you
want you can bring along some “gatorade” type drink mix. The team will cover buying liquids
for you if you’re sick, but in a pinch you might want to have one or two little packages of your
own. You can also go to your doctor and ask for a wide-ranging antibiotic (e.g. Cipro) to take in
the event that you come down with Montezuma’s Revenge or another serious bacterial
infection. Obviously if you are prescribed antibiotics in Mexico City the health insurance will
cover it, but some people like to have their own so that if they are sure they have something
serious they can start antibiotics right away. Not being a doctor, I am not going to instruct you
on when you should or should not take your antibiotics – but if your doctor gives you some he or
she can probably give you a good idea of how you can know you have a sickness that warrants
taking the medication. Important – if at any time you have bloody stool let one of the directors
know right away and we’ll get you to a hospital. Also, DO NOT take Immodium or any other
medication designed to prevent diarrhea. When you get diarrhea in Mexico you need to allow
your system to flush the bacteria out – preventing diarrhea will be worse in the long run.
If you wear contact lenses be sure to bring enough solution for the entire time. You may
want to bring glasses as well in case the pollution causes your contacts to bother you and/or dry
Global Urban Trek – Mexico City 2010
Student Manual Part III – Reading Assignments and Spiritual Preparation
Hopefully most of you have finished (or are nearing the end) of your exams and have
copious amounts of time with which to read Trek related material. We can all hope anyway.
We realize that you are all busy with fundraising, packing, the remains of school, work, etc.
Therefore, we’re giving you some reading that really needs to get done, but also some that is
recommended, but optional – given that the next few weeks will be quite hectic.
The Trek Reader
With the reader you all received a letter from Scott detailing the required reading.
Please follow the instructions in that letter. Or, if you can’t find that list, here it is again:
The one-page summaries at the start of each section
One article from each of these sections:
Theology of Poverty
For the five articles to read based on personal interest feel free to look on the web or in your
school’s library for articles about poverty issues in Mexico that you are interested in.
Remember, the articles could be about things going on outside of Mexico City – many of the
people living in poverty in Mexico City have come from other parts of the country and hoped to
escape the poverty in their area by finding work in the City. Some interesting topics to read on
include the impact of NAFTA on Mexicans, the Zapatista movement, the recent US-Mexico
immigration issues, and political division in the country that remains after the 2006 closely
contested presidential race.
Here are the numbers of some articles from the reader that we recommend because they are
most relevant to what we will be doing in Mexico City. However, feel free to choose the ones
that interest you most to fulfil the requirements. Of course, if you have the time it is well worth
it to peruse all the articles in the reader. [Fun Fact: “peruse” actually means to examine
thoroughly – the colloquial meaning of “glancing over quickly” is not the traditional one]
1, 4, 10, 12, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, and 26
Mexican History, Politics, and Culture
You should try and at least read a brief summary of Mexico (facts, brief history, culture,
etc.) before going so you have some knowledge of the country. You could browse through a
Lonely Planet guide at a bookstore, visit websites, or if you have more time get a book from your
school library. Do not bother bringing a guidebook to Mexico though – the hostel has plenty if
you want to look something up, and it will just take up space in your backpack. Once in Mexico
we want the people there to tell us the story of their country, rather than relying on a book
designed for tourists. The purpose of honing up on facts before we go is so we have at least
some background – a starting place – and are not totally clueless. Once there, the voices that
are not often heard in books and government websites will tell us about Mexico.
That being said, here are some websites and books that could be useful to you.
http://www.gob.mx/wb/egobierno/egob_General_Information - The government of Mexico
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35749.htm – The US State Department background note on
Mexico. Good brief description of Mexico, but focuses mostly on economics rather than culture.
http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/cfsi-icse/cil-cai/inter-source/cp-en.asp?iso=mx – an interesting
site from the Canadian government. This page provides “cultural insight” into Mexico through
the experience of two people – one Mexican and one Canadian. I could not find a similar
American site, but you could try.
http://www.mexicocity.gob.mx/index_EN.html – the Mexico City site – be sure to check on the
links (in the official information section).
If you can get these books at your school or public library I recommend them.
Preston, J. and Dillon, S. Opening Mexico: The Making of a Democracy. New York: Farrar, Straus
and Giroux, 2004.
Joesph, G. M. and Henderson, T. J., eds. The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham:
Duke University Press, 2002.
Hamnett, B. A Concise History of Mexico. Cambridge: University Press, 1999.
Ruiz, Ramóm Eduardo. Triumphs and Tragedy: A History of the Mexican People. New York:
Thomas, H. Conquest: Montezuma, Cortés, and the Fall of Old Mexico. New York: Simon &
Amidst all the details of packing, travel planning, intellectual reading, etc. it is easy to
neglect our spiritual selves and our relationship with God. This section comes at the end of the
manual because it is important to remember that our spiritual preparation undergirds
everything that has come before. Ensure that you are spending time in prayer, scripture,
meditation, and other ways that you connect with God in the last few weeks before the trip.
As you read scripture before the trip, focus on three areas – and specifically on three
As we embark on a ministry of incarnation, be reading the Gospels to see what it means
to live as Jesus lived, and to love people as he loved them. Please read through Luke – as his
gospel is attuned to Jesus’ message of hope for the poor and oppressed, and to Jesus’ warnings
to the rich and powerful.
As we face issues of injustice, be reading the Prophets who spoke out against injustice
on God’s behalf. Please read through Amos – as his message tells of the responsibility of God’s
people to protect the oppressed, and God’s displeasure with Israel when they did not do so.
As we face issues of building community, be reading through Paul’s letters to Christian
communities offering wisdom on how to live together in love. Please read through Colossians –
Paul’s letter to that community encourages them to live in Christ even as the powers around
them tempt them to live in other ways.
Everything is built on top of our relationship with God. Of course be petitioning God on
behalf of the team and the people we will work with, and be praying for provision – but above
all, be building your relationship with God through communicating your hopes and fears to God
in prayer and listening for his will for you this summer.
We pray that the Holy Spirit will grant you wisdom and peace as you complete your
preparations for the Trek, and we look forward to meeting you all in person.
Katye & Jane