Greetings from your mission team in Weslaco, Texas. Guess what? It is hot in Texas today! The word on the street is that the temperature will reach the 100’s every day we are here. We will surely have some acclimating to do this week.
As is our new normal, our day began on Saturday morning around 5:15 when Don and Diane picked up the first crew at my house. This year, that meant that six of the thirteen were boarding at the bottom of our driveway on Clinton Street. To help facilitate this, Doug also drove our car, with all our “stuff” to the Pinson’s, which was the next stop on the pick-up route. That is where the next five missionaries were added to the group on the bus. We were at K-May for our donut breakfast by 5:45, and were soon joined by Jeff and Nancy Hooker. (Kayo had asked his minister, Pastor Hooker, to meet us there at 5:55 so that we could begin our adventure with a traveling prayer.) We felt blessed to have Jeff lead us in prayer before we departed for our next stop in Bessemer. When we arrived at our meeting place to pick up Karryl Anderson, we were pleasantly surprised to find Jac Catlett and both of her sons there to hand deliver Jac’s famous lemon cookies and pecan bars, a much anticipated treat. (We had earlier received Miss Virginia’s treats (scotcheroos), as well as two containers of cookies from Nell Lutz.)
Our day on Saturday was wonderfully uneventful. While Kayo and Don shared the driving, the rest of us could spend our time talking, napping, reading, and eating some of those delicious homemade treats. We continued some of our new traditions, which included book talks and stopping at Raising Cane’s chicken in Slidell. With very few slowdowns on the interstate, we were able to make good time, arriving in Baytown around 6:30. Following dinner, almost all of us were able to turn in for the night around 9:30. However, a few of us opted to accompany Don and Shawn when they drove the church bus to pick up my niece Jessie at the Houston Airport. That meant those of us who were going were back on the bus around 10:30, headed to the huge airport complex north of Houston. Jessie’s plane arrived a little early, so we were back at the hotel around 1:00 a.m., resulting in just a little less sleep for us.
On Sunday, following our breakfast at the hotel and our morning devotional in the hotel parking lot, we headed out again to continue our tradition of stopping at a Starbucks about an hour down the road for a second cup of coffee or a refreshing sweet tea. Again, we made good time, and after our traditional lunch at Whataburger, we arrived at the First Presbyterian Church in Weslaco, our home away from home this week. We were met by the FPC welcoming crew of Terry, (the “iceman,”) Charles Bell and Pastor McCann. Colleen, our Faith Ministry volunteer contact, and Will, the new summer intern for Faith Ministry, also were there to deliver the van we will use to transport us back and forth across the border. Surprisingly, we will be using the newest van, instead of the much used and much loved old FPC Athens van, (which we gifted to Faith Ministry when our church purchased the bus.) All five of those folks helped us unload our suitcases and sleeping stuff, as well as some tools and other necessities for our work week.
Just as soon as we had completely unloaded the bus, Colleen made our picture, (which is already on Faith Ministry’s Facebook page; check it out,) and she and Will left. We then re-boarded our church bus for the WalMart trip of the century. Diane had previously divided us into teams of two, so she then handed out the shopping lists. Each pair was responsible for getting just the items on their lists, and then meeting back at the front of the store for the grand check-out. The only lane open when we were ready to check out happened to be the same woman who checked us out last year. She was patient and efficient, and we tried to help out by bagging and loading the carts to make the process as quick and painless as possible. We were her last customer of the day, and she hugged and “God blessed” each one of us, before we left. Needless to say, the most difficult part of this task is loading those 13 carts of groceries onto the bus, and then unloading those groceries into the church. (With the heat and humidity of the day, we were all wringing wet by the
time we were finished.)
Tonight, for dinner, Weslaco FPC hosted a potluck dinner for us, which was great. (Presbyterians sure do know how to host a potluck dinner.) It was an opportunity for us to share a meal and sit and visit with both old and new friends here at the church where we stay. For us, it was a lovely, leisurely meal, and several of the members also stayed and joined us for the Eventide devotional.
After dinner, we reviewed how our day would go and we divided up the responsibilities here at the home away from home church. For Eventide, we are sharing the leadership with pairs of folks from our mission team leading the evening’s worship and discussion. We also divided up the leadership for the morning devotional, which happens every morning about 10 minutes before we load the bus for work in the colonias. Then, Don told us a little bit about what we will be doing this week in the colonias. Since we are the only work team helping Faith Ministry this week, we will have the new intern Will with us all week, and Colleen will join us on a few days.The one thing that was not on the list for this week was digging a foundation, a task I won’t miss.
We did not make “light’s out” tonight; it was at 9:00 p.m., and we were still setting up our sleeping spaces. Nevertheless, we were able to get the lights out by 10:00. As we turn in for the night, we are hopeful we will be able to complete all our building tasks, as well as reflect the love and faith of Jesus Christ. Please pray for your missionaries all week, and pray for the ministry enacted by all the Faith Ministry volunteers, as well as the mission team you have sent to be the hands and feet of God in the colonias. We thank you for your donations and for your faith in us as missionaries to the world.
With love, from your missionary pen pal . . . Randi