Violence in Mexico doesn't deter American travelers

March 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The U.S. government is warning Americans about unnecessary travel to parts of Mexico after three Americans were killed over the weekend. Still, local church groups planning mission trips to Mexico are still going.

Even with the travel warning in effect, so many people are used to hearing about violence in Mexico, it really is not impacting their travel plans.

Benjamin Kerns has been through this before. The pastor to children and students at Marin Covenant Church has taken 15 groups of high school kids to Mexico for mission trips. There is always a question of safety, but last year, the issue hit a new level.

"People were pretty nervous and we were nervous to take a team into a situation nobody knew about, and so we decided to postpone the trip for that year," says Kerns.

This year, violence is once again making headlines. Over the weekend three people with ties to the American consulate were shot to death in the middle of the afternoon after leaving a children's birthday party. One of the victims was pregnant. Both of the cars attacked had children in the backseat and two of the kids were hurt and hospitalized.

Regardless, Kerns is not cancelling the trip this year. He says the village they are going to is far away from the troubled areas.

"We're just south of Yuma, Arizona in a little village outside of San Luis Rio, Colorado," says Kerns.

The parents say they trust his judgment. Lance Bardo says he is not having second thoughts about sending his daughter Amy on the mission trip.

"One of the things about being a parent is how to let loose a little bit and to figure out when to take well thought out risks. You know you can't protect your kids all the time," said Bardo.

The State Department has issued a new warning urging Americans to avoid any unnecessary travel to six northern Mexico border cities, but thousands of Americans crossed into Mexico on Monday like it was any other normal day.

A family from Iowa brought their 7-year-old daughter.

"We just had a lot of really long conversations before we came about holding hands and watching where we are going and constantly staying together," said mother Audra Lyman.

The members of Marin Covenant are outraged and saddened by what happened, but decided to move forward with their plans because they say life needs to be lived.

Marin Covenant is not the exception, a couple of other Bay Area churches ABC7 spoke to also plan to go on their mission trips to Mexico.

As for the investigation, officials think drug gangs are to blame. They don't know why American consulate employees and their families would be targeted.


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