Unidos, unidos, en su nombre, unidos.
Two countries, two languages, one heart.
Dear Friends, this will be the last entry in the 2017 Mexico Mission Journal. I am trying to type this as we head out on Interstate 10, having left Baytown early this morning. Because we left our hotel at 6:00 A.M., before the hotel’s continental breakfast was ready, we stopped for breakfast at a What-A-Burger about an hour from Houston. (By the way, I shared a honey butter chicken biscuit which was pretty good, especially with a coffee milkshake.)
Yesterday, we spent a wonderful last day in the colonias, finishing the last two rows of block and hosting a fiesta for our new friends and their families. You will remember that the first thing we had to do yesterday when we got up at 5:00, was to pack up all our stuff and take it to the fellowship hall for loading on the bus that afternoon. We still had a hot breakfast, and today we were joined by both Carolyn and Charles Bell. (This was Carolyn’s first day with us, as she was recovering from a cold, and so we all had a lot of catching up to do while we ate breakfast.) Our van was stuffed with all the food that the two Diane’s had made for the lunchtime fiesta at the church, and for the first time this week, Diane and Diane were traveling with us!
We were cozy as we headed out to Mexico … more people and more “stuff” … and, of course, we got a “red light”! Several of us wanted to go to the clinic to see Nurse Betty and to assist with the children’s nutrition program, so Colleen took us there, and then took the remaining 5 or 6 back to our work site to lay the last two rows of block. We took some “goodies” for Betty to share with her new mothers and to use with the children at the clinic. Because we arrived at the right time, we were able to help plate and serve the children who attend this nutrition program. (Expectant mothers are also included in the nutrition program.) Oralia was cooking when we got there, and today’s meal consisted of salad and two meat empanadas; if the children ate everything on their plates, they were then given a bowl of cereal with milk and bananas. (Of course, we did not know the protocol: the children had to clean their plates before they could receive their cereal, thus almost everyone got a pass on Friday, but we got a little lesson in how important it was for them to eat their vegetables, too.) After breakfast, Pastor Carlos sings with the children and does a little Bible story or lesson. Some of their songs had motions, so we joined right in and sang with them; then we sang our song “Lord We Lift Your Name on High,” teaching them the motions as we sang.
We next went to the worksite to watch Adan place the last block on the home he never dreamed he would have, and we could easily see what a blessing this was to this entire family. José Cruz made the plaque for the front of the home, and we all wrote our names under theirs, and then it was time for photo ops, before heading to the church to prepare our fiesta meal. Colleen had arranged for all of our sponsored students to be at the church for lunch, so Robin got to meet her medical student, Johnathan Vincente, Shawn, Jessie, and Jamie got to talk with their student, Ana Sophia from last year’s family, and Elise, Doug, and I talked with Humberto and Angel, as well as their mother, Paula. We also asked to sponsor Danna from this year’s family. (Look for those photos soon on the Mexico Mission bulletin board.)
Your team was delighted to be able to share a meal we prepared for those who served us all week long. Thus, we brought, brisket, lasagna, chicken, potatoes, slaw, potato salad, bread, lots of desserts and a Joya or a Coke for everyone! There was plenty of food, and many of our volunteers deliberately only ate half of what they received, saving half of it for later or for other members of their family. After lunch, we took our family into the church to give them the gifts we had brought. There were smiles and happy tears all around, as well as many hugs and good wishes until we see them again next year. We were able to leave the compound around 12:30 and make a run for the border. Once again, the border agents defied logic when we reached the agent’s booth; Kayo handed him all 13 of our passports, opened and ready to scan; the agent took them all, and then handed them right back! Shocking!
When we got back to Weslaco FPC, Pastor McCann and Charles Bell, as well as Michael, who was going to take the borrowed van back to the Faith Ministry office in McAllen, were waiting for us. We were loaded and ready to roll when Pastor McCann boarded the bus to pronounce our traveling prayer, and we were on our way to Baytown by 2:00.
Some of you know that there is a border patrol check about one hour north of the Weslaco area. In 20 plus years of traveling back from Weslaco, we have never been stopped, but today we were asked to pull over and wait. In a minute or two, an agent boarded the bus and asked each row if they were U.S. Citizens. After all had answered, he disembarked and we were on our way again. What I haven’t said yet is that, in the 100+ degree weather of south Texas, the bus never got cool, even though the air was blasting the entire time. I would guess that we never got below a balmy 80 degrees inside the bus. (A few of us theorized that the officer actually stopped our bus, hoping to be in a somewhat cooler area, even for only a few minutes. When he got in and realized it was pretty warm in the bus, too, he shortened his visit considerably.)
We stopped for a quick dinner on the western edge of Houston and were at our hotel by a little after 9:00, and all were off to their rooms and a real bed for the night.
Our return to Athens was blessedly uneventful. We had two Interstate “slowdowns” during the day: one on 10 before we got to Baton Rouge and one on 59 in southern Mississippi. As usual, we stopped in Hattiesburg at the Cane’s for a quick lunch. We had Karryl at the Bessemer stop around 5:30, where Becky was waiting for him, and we were back at Kayo’s by around 7:00.
It was a wonderful week in Weslaco and the colonias, and we are already making plans for next year! Before we left, we committed to return to build another house during the week before Father’s Day; that will be June 9 through June 16 of 2018. Thank you, again, for sending us to be the feet and hands of Jesus along the border in Texas and Mexico. With your prayers and support, we were able to make a difference in the lives of at least one family. As our mission Bible verse says,
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
Until next year, we remain “unidos en su nombre” … united in His name … two countries, two languages, one heart.”
With love and gratitude … your Mexico Mission pen pal … Randi