Youth Band crosses the border

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Group works to establish music program.


The Southern California Divisional Youth Band recently returned from a week in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where they worked to establish a lasting music program at the corps there.

Working with the El Paso Citadel in Texas, the band crossed the border at El Paso to run a music camp, work on the corps’ facilities and hold open airs in the local community.

Each day over 80 children—ranging in age from 5-15—arrived at the corps for a day of music instruction and fun. Mornings began with a massed singing rehearsal led by Kevin Larsson, divisional music director, when the youth band members tried their best to sing in Spanish!

Next the kids were divided into four age groups and spent the rest of the day in a rotation of classes: singing, piano, guitar, drums/timbrels and free time.

The corps in Ciudad Juarez had widely publicized the band’s visit, drawing more children from the community than expected.

With the younger children, most from the corps’ community daycare—a crucial ministry here—band members spent time singing and playing timbrels and other percussion instruments.

Band member Laura Foley recalled one child she will always remember. Deaf and mute, the child came from a family that could not afford hearing aids.

“Although he couldn’t hear the music he was playing or tell us what he thought of it, for the entire week he had the biggest smile I have ever seen,” she said. “We didn’t need to speak to him for God’s love to shine through us, our actions did all of the talking.”

The band’s construction crew installed electricity, new ceilings, new floors and fresh paint to the daycare building that had been slowly caving in—it can now hold nearly three times the amount of children in a comfortable, healthy and safe environment.

“It is such a blessing to fully experience and realize that we are all a part of the same family of God, no matter where a person lives,” Foley said.

Over 75 parents and friends exceeded the size of the sanctuary for the final concert, spilling onlookers into the street outside the corps.

“It was hard for many of us to leave the kids behind,” said band member Bee Bryant, of territorial headquarters, who wrote a daily blog online at “But we left feeling like we really made an impact on their lives and showed the love of Christ and really, that’s what ultimately matters.”

“The Western Territory should be very proud of the young people in the Southern California Divisional Youth Band,” said Martin Hunt, of territorial headquarters. “I was able to witness our young people teaching music and investing in the lives of people who live a less fortunate life than we do—the children’s response was a real blessing and their impact on our young people was even greater.”

The band may have returned to California, but the music in Mexico will not stop. The Southern California Division donated 14 electric pianos and guitars with Spanish instruction books so they will continue to learn and make music for the Lord.



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