Twenty-five students crossed the border into Mexico earlier this month to bring Christmas spirit to children at Niños de la Promesa, an orphanage outside the red light district of Tijuana. The students, who are all part of Biola’s Tijuana Ministry, brought presents for each of the orphans, as well as games, crafts, piñatas and hot tamales to celebrate Christmas with the children. More than gifts, the students aimed to bring hope to the orphans.

When the students arrived at the orphanage, the children ran out excitedly to play with their returning and new friends — Tijuana Ministry visits Niños de la Promesa about five times a semester.

“I love going because when you go, you see the joy that makes their eyes light up,” said sophomore volunteer Diana Jenkins. “The thing that hits me the most is seeing what they have gone through and how they are now. For these kids, showing them that people care about them and are willing to come back again and again is showing them Christ’s love.”

The students meet on campus at 6:45 a.m. on Saturdays, carpool down to San Diego, walk across the border and board a trolley to the orphanage for a day of serving and fun. To prepare for this trip, several of the girls involved enlisted their friends to help them make colorful fleece blankets for each of the kids to keep.

The children greeted the volunteers with smiles, eager to teach the Americans their favorite games, songs and activities. The kids painted and decorated cardboard reindeer and snowflakes with glitter and sequins alongside Biola students. Two piñatas filled with candy resembled a round snowman and jolly Santa Claus until they were both batted open and greedily emptied by a crowd of little boys and girls.

After dinner and prayer in the evening, the children lined up outside and one by one each were able to choose a blanket for themselves and receive a Christmas cookie, candy cane and hug.

Tyler and Connie Youngkin, co-founders and directors of Niños de la Promesa, began serving impoverished children in Mexico after their own children grew up, married and moved away. In 2001, they left their home in San Diego, moved to Tijuana and founded the orphanage. The couple has been helping rescue kids living on the streets of Tijuana ever since, motivated by their desire to share their faith in Christ.

Both the Youngkins appreciate the additional help, creativity and fun Biola students bring to the ministry. “The kids just love [Biola students]! They look forward to having them,” said Connie Youngkin. “To top it all off, having this beautiful Mexican fiesta celebrating Christmas with tamales even — It was just beautiful!”

However, the children and the orphanage staff are not the only ones who benefit from joining this ministry.

Sophomore Tiffany Waters regularly visits the orphanage with the Biola’s ministry and appreciates the opportunity to see life in a different light. “It’s a great way to see Tijuana and the contrast between it and San Diego,” said Waters. “It is refreshing in the fact that it gives us a new perspective to look at in life just by being thankful for what we have.”

Watch a video of the ministry’s trip to Tijuana produced by Biola sophomore Jessica Airey:

Written by Jessica Airey, Media Relations Intern. For more information, please contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, at or via phone at 562.777.4061.