Spring Break Trip to Mexico Canceled

February 25, 2009 11:44:02 PM PST
Safety concerns have prompted a Valley church to cancel a mission trip to Mexico during spring break and others could soon follow suit. The U.S. State department has issued a travel advisory warning Americans about increasing violence around border towns and beyond. Teens at Southpointe Church are still weeks away from spring break but their plans have already changed. For the past three years, many of them have traveled to Tijuana, Mexico to help those who are less fortunate. This year, they won't return. "I'm going to miss it. I going to miss it a lot," said Nick Paynter.

The Southpointe youth group will instead do mission work here in the Valley. Church leaders say increasing violence in Mexico made them make the tough decision. "It just seemed too dangerous, too big of a decision to go, really," said Southpointe Youth Pastor Renee Larson.

Two Arizona universities have also issued travel advisories to their students, warning them of the possible dangers. Dr. Paul Oliaro, the Vice President of Student Affairs at Fresno State, says the university typically doesn't issue travel advisories to its students, but if the state department advisory is still in affect as spring break nears they will notify students of its existence via email. "We would pick the right week and let them know this advisory does exist, and for them to be aware of it," said Dr. Oliaro.

Matt Gostanian with SWAT Travel sells spring break packages to San Felipe, Mexico to students across the west coast and says sales have never been stronger. He says safety is a top concern among students but his company does everything possible to keep them out of harm's way. A security team serves an escort and students are transported by bus. "You just to understand that there are certain areas affected by certain groups. But as long as students are aware of where they're going and they travel safely they'll be well taken care of," said Gostanian.

150 Fresno State students have already paid to travel to Mexico for spring break and Gostanian says that number is only expected to rise in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, there are at least two other churches in Fresno still considering whether to take their annual mission trip to Mexico.

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