Hola, Amigos and Amigas! Our mission team of 17, plus many helpers from Weslaco FPC, are finishing our last day in Texas. Tomorrow will be our final day in the colonias, as we complete the last two rows of blocks on our family’s new home. In a few weeks, another mission group will pour the roof for the house we built across the border. As work goes, it will be a “light” day with just a little mortar-mixing and a little block-laying. We will also have the opportunity to spend a little time at the clinic, and help with breakfast and the English classes, as well as talk to Nurse Betty. Then we will set up a feast for our Faith Ministry friends and families, and serve them a lunch with brisket as the main course.
This morning, we headed out to the border, with Colleen taking many of our family’s gifts, as well as our food gifts for our Mexico co-workers. She got the red light at the border, as we sailed through; however, it was only a temporary delay, and she was soon at the compound, ready for us to unload her car and head out for the day’s work.
We worked again with Irvington Presbyterian, a church of about 500 members located in Indianapolis. They are a quite interesting group of eleven older adults, including the Pastor and his wife, an 80 year old woman who serves as their translator, as well as three who fly from Scotland every year to be part of this mission. This year, the members of their church made 100 dresses for little girls, each one of them different and perfectly adorable, and they gave each of the girls in our family one of those beautifully sewn dresses. It would be fun to team up with them again, but they are absolutely certain they will never schedule their mission during the summer again; it is just too hot! (They usually come in March, but could not get it scheduled due to conflicts.)
This morning was quite overcast, and the street where we poured the roof was a very quiet one, with not much traffic pedestrian or vehicle. While it was quite muggy, it is always a little easier to pour a roof when there is not a hot sun beating down on us. We thought we would see Juan, Myra’s and my friend from a few years ago, especially since he was friends with the Indiana group, too; however, Omar decided we really did not need any help, and so we missed the opportunity to visit with him. Since we are a seasoned mission group with about 40 years of experience between us, we all went to the spot we preferred to work, and the process began, just like a finely oiled machine. The only pause in action was when someone who was on the scaffold or roof needed a break, so one came down, and one went up to take his or her place. I shoveled sand for awhile, and then took Doug’s place as the person who puts the bucket in position to be filled with concrete. The main drawback of that job is a lot of concrete down one’s back and in one’s hair. It was very interesting to me to look up and see people were actually lined up to do one of the hardest jobs, which is throwing a bucket of cement up to the roof, via a scaffold. One would think they were in line for ice cream, instead! When we finished, the mother in the home had made chicken mole for all of us, and it was amazing. (The young people on this trip are willing and eager to try the authentic Mexican food that we have had all week, either at the work site or at the complex, and most have loved it.)
As it was only 10:00, our group then traveled to the house that will be built next week. Chewkie is training to be a foreman, and so his first test was to lay out the foundation footing for this house. It was our job to finish digging it! This is the one job I really do not like, but every one did some of the work, and some did more work. It was unbelievably hard to dig, and nearly impossible, as it was almost entirely native rock. (The Lewis Family staked out their own corner and dug the entire foundation for that part of the house.) When lunchtime arrived, we had placed the rebar in the footers and tied them to each other. Our group always seems to find some time for fun, even when we are working hard. While we were having a water and shade break, Chewkie found a softball and so we decided to have a little pick-up baseball game. We were all set to use a short shovel as a bat when Chewkie found a very short, fat plastic bat for us to use. Sam was up first, and Robin beaned him on first pitch. A couple of others also tried this crazy form of one pitch baseball before we had to go back to work and finish tying the rebar before lunch.
We were glad that Deantin was able to join us for lunch and the worship service today, and it was so good to talk to him and to have him lead the singing and tell one of his own Jesus stories. (He also picked up his cake from Miss Virginia and his starfish plate from our mission team and The Potter’s Hand.) kEven though many had already had chicken mole, we all ate the delicious lunch prepared for us at the complex. (It might have been my favorite, as it was as good or better than my dinner last night.) The worship service was the dedication for the two homes built this week through Faith Ministry. As is the custom, each family was given an opportunity to express their gratitude, and a member of the mission team also gets to speak about what it means to their team to be able to give a family a home. Kayo and I talked for our team, and told about Karen, what the Mexico Mission and Faith Ministry meant to her, and our desire to dedicate this home in her memory. The minister then gave a brief message, followed by Communion. At the end of the service, we all were invited to come up and give our best wishes to both families. We had one more thing to do; we brought our family into the dining hall, where we gave Ana Rosa her gifts, and it was quite touching to see her surprise and delight in the gifts for both her and her family. She kept saying, “Is this all for us?” As I have said many times before, “It is quite an experience to be able to make a difference in someone’s life in just one week.” Thank you all for helping to make that happen through your prayers and support of this mission.
While Kayo took the family and their gifts home, Gracie gave us a tour of the complex, which is currently being renovated. Most of us had never seen the whole space, which still includes beds for about 36 with a kitchen/dining area and showers all upstairs. There are also two apartments upstairs for the interns, and a small efficiency apartment downstairs for the Pastor.
When Kayo returned, we loaded upland headed back home, and for,the first time since Monday, we arrived back at Weslaco FPC at the scheduled time. Diane had already texted Don that the power usage was so high that a failure occurred in parts of Weslaco, including the church. Both Diane’s began making contingency plans for getting our brisket cooked for tomorrow, as well as finding a cool spot until the power returned, which it did by 3:00. Today was our mini shopping trip on this side of the border, so we had to skip our showers temporarily and hustle to get to the stores before closing. Most of the men stayed back to shower and nap before dinner, while Kayo chauffeured the ladies plus Karryl to the two shops, where we all bought a few items for our friends and family and vanilla! Dinner was delicious, but a little late, as was our Eventide, which did not start until 8:00, and that is why I did not take a shower until after 10:00.
We have our marching orders for tomorrow: our bedding and big suitcases are to be on the trailer before breakfast tomorrow morning. When we get back from the border in the afternoon, we may change clothes, and then put our overnight bag and personal bag on the bus. I know we hope to be on the road to Baytown by 3:00; please pray for safe travels as we leave Texas, and head for north Alabama.
We know the power of taking Jesus out into the world and being the hands and feet of our Lord. Our God is amazing, and we thank him every day for this wonderful opportunity to serve along the border between Texas and Mexico. Again, thank you for your love, support, and prayers.
Your missionary pen pal ……….. Randi