Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Merivale to Mexico

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Sarah and Mike Louwrens are off to Mexico with their four children Michal, 13, Ezekiel,11, Elisha, 10, and Judah, 2.
Sarah and Mike Louwrens are off to Mexico with their four children Michal, 13, Ezekiel,11, Elisha, 10, and Judah, 2.

Mike and Sarah Louwrens are selling everything they own, and moving to Tijuana, Mexico with their four children.

The family of six visited the US and Mexico late last year where they visited an orphanage in Tijuana, run by Coastline Church in Carlsbad, North County, San Diego, and called Ninos de Fe (Children of Faith).

While there, the family decided Mexico was where they belonged, and they will move their lives there from Merivale, Tauranga to help establish a church.

Merivale resident Sarah Louwrens said the overseas mission, where they would be helping people less advantaged than themselves, had been something they wanted to do for a long time.

Her husband Mike had spent his teenage years on different mission trips through the Pacific, Southeast Asia, America and Europe, while she was a bit later to the party and visited Cambodia four years ago.

"After I got home, I said to my husband, 'okay I am ready now, you can take me anywhere'," Mrs Louwrens said.

"I was really apprehensive about doing overseas stuff. Before our honeymoon to Rarotonga, I had never been anywhere. I haven't even been to the South Island. When I got back from Cambodia, it was a country so foreign to New Zealand. Hardly anyone spoke English, but I felt so comfortable and so in love with what we were doing."

On the trip, she helped build a house for a woman and her two grandchildren who had been living near a rubbish dump which had open sewers running near their home.

Seeing and experiencing the many wonders of a Third World country was a shock to the system, she said. "A shock in a good way, I loved the practical side of being able to help people."

The family had been looking at various opportunities when another family member put them in touch with the church in San Diego. They went over to the US and Mexico late last year for a holiday, as well as to have a job interview.

"We were so impressed with the children at the orphanage. They were giving away their clothes and food to the homeless but had very little themselves. We had an amazing time, the kids were great, so appreciative.

"We loved it, we came home not knowing what we loved about it. But we got a glimpse of where we want to to be and live."

Three weeks later, they had a call they would be locating to Mexico.

The family would help setting up a church near Tijuana, and would work alongside the orphanage.

Mrs Louwrens said, while the area was a "hot spot for human trafficking, gangs and drugs", safety was not something they were worried about.

Their four children would be home-schooled by Mrs Louwrens like they were here in New Zealand, she said.

The family was in the process of fundraising to get them over to the Northern Hemisphere where they hoped to live permanently after they left in October, or late November this year.

To help the family on their way to Mexico, visit their Givealittle page.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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