Hey, y’all! We have finished our fourth workday in the colonias, and almost all of our assigned tasks have been completed. As Doug said on our way home in the van, “Can y’all believe we finished Thursday already?”
This morning, we had our usual breakfast, only today, Colleen and Vicky dined with us, as well as Zane, who was here to help the two Diane’s with clean-up.While we were chowing down, both Colleen and Vicky had their phones out and were reading the Mission Journal as they ate
breakfast. Since we had the benefit of their car, too, we decided to take all the gifts for the Faith Ministry staff, as well as some housewarming gifts for our family. So Colleen had most of that in her “trunk”and backseat. As it turned out, we received a green light again as we crossed into
Mexico, but Colleen was stopped. When we finally got to the compound, we quizzed Colleen about being stopped. She told us that the Mexican government is most concerned about bringing items in to re-sell in the colonia. Diane and Diane had put names on all the gift bags, which helped convince the order agents that all those bags were gifts for particular people, and not stuff to sell.
This morning, as we drove from Weslaco to Reynosa, Myra went into her “teacher mode,”and asked each of us, on a scale of one to ten, how we felt today. Then she started with Kayo, and asked the rest of us to come up with a positive adjective to describe Kayo, and she continued
going all around the van asking for positive words to describe all of us, including herself. About halfway through, she told us we could possibly get extra credit, if we could describe the person with a word that begins with the same letter as the first name. Some of the words were problemsolver, God- loving, kindred spirit, enthusiastic, easy-going, genius, dedicated, and dependable: can you guess which missionary team member goes with which word? Everyone received a 100 from Myra, except Kayo and Don, who did not participate because they had to concentrate on driving; they received an incomplete, and according to Myra, will have to do some make-up work.
Our first task was pouring the roof for Zoyla, her husband, and her five children. (For those of you who have been before, think about placing a family of seven in a twelve by twenty-four home.) It was in a part of the colonia where we had never worked before, and it reminded me of a new subdivision, as there were several fenced off “lots” with “for sale” signs on the fences. As we did on Tuesday, we combined forces with the Austin team and their volunteers and family to pour today’s roof in record time; it was done in 50 minutes, but apparently all the folks were in just the right spot for each person’s skills and personality. I shoveled gravel, again, only today my bucket hauler was Tom from Austin, and let me just say, he was great! He placed the empty bucket exactly where it needed to be, so I could scoop the gravel into a tipped over bucket. Kudos and many thanks to him!
After we finished the roof, we loaded up and headed back to our work site, where we ate our morning snack and waited for the scaffold materials to arrive. Then we began the process of making concrete the old-fashioned way, with 8 wheelbarrows each of gravel and sand, cement, and water. When it is mixed, buckets are filled with two scoops of concrete and passed to the guys on the scaffold. They, in turn, pour the concrete into the previously formed ring and columns. As in previous years, there was a full bucket line and an empty bucket line, and your mission team chose appropriate to each person’s skill. It seemed to take longer than usual, but we finished before noon and departed for the church.
Today, lunch was rice, beans, and some meat mixture. (No one could tell us exactly what the meat was in that mixture; was it short ribs, ox tails, chupacabra, or something else? Stay tuned and we will try to find that answer for you.) Nurse Betty and the Doctor from the clinic both came today for lunch and church, so we had an opportunity to talk with them while we ate. Nurse Betty said that in addition to the feeding program for the children, she has begun a ministry for the elderly in the community. In fact, she is hoping to turn the old clinic, which we helped build, into a place where the elderly could meet and be cared for on a regular basis.
After lunch, we went into the church for the dedication of the houses that were built this week, #9 and #10. For all of us, this is an emotional service, as we bless the families and the homes. Before that, though, Pastor Carlos delivered a wonderful homily on loving God first and foremost, and then loving your neighbor as yourself, after which we sang “Lord, We Lift Your Name on High” in Spanish and with motions. Then, David Rodriguez called the two families to the front of the church, as well as a representative of each mission team. After someone from each family expressed their gratitude and joy at receiving a home, the team members spoke, too. Doug spoke for our team, and then Bill spoke for the Austin team. David then invited the two teams up to lay hands and and pray for our families, and it was a powerful expression of God’s love for all of us. Following that, Pastor Carlos, David, and Kayo led the group in a very meaningful Communion service.
You know that for the past several years, we have been giving some sort of a housewarming present. We who are so fortunate are more than willing to share our wealth with others, and so what started as a love offering has evolved into a line item in our budget. Omar talks to the family about what might be on their wishlist, and we see if we can make that happen. This year, our family, like so many others, requested both a washing machine and a stove. With careful budgeting, we were also able to provide a propane tank and a bed, as well as some cookware, Rubbermaid containers, detergent, as well as some onesies, a few books for the family, and of course, a soccer ball for Dad and baby Samara. It was humbling for us to see how appreciative Alejandro and Anahi were when they saw the gifts; we all needed tissues. We were later leaving the colonias this afternoon, and so no Officer Munoz for us today. Instead we got Officer Solis, who opened the side door, looked in, and said, “Let me see all these happy faces!” (We think Officer Munoz left a sticky note saying we were a mission team and to treat us
with respect and kindness.) Officer Solis did not even match up our faces and names to the passports. He just ran them through the machine and returned them to us!
Tonight, Pastor McCann was able to join us for our dinner of brisket, baked potatoes, charro beans, Asian slaw, and pistachio cake. We had our last Eventide tonight, and then we joined in to complete our preparation for the fiesta meal we will take across the border tomorrow to share with our new friends. We also have to begin to pack up our gear, as when we return tomorrow afternoon, we will be loading the bus for the first leg of our trip home. It will be made easier by the fact that Ana, the housekeeper at Weslaco FPC, has been taking care of our living space and making things easier for all of us as we “live” here this week.
I will probably not write again until Saturday evening or Sunday. Please pray for safe travels as we complete our work in the colonia and start back home. It has been a great week serving the Lord in Texas and Mexico!
Your pen pal …Randi
P.S. – Our young “beautician in training” did not work with us today, so no beauty shop report. Her
friends said she was at home sleeping, but when we got back to Weslaco, Kata had a friend
request, complete with selfies, from Wendy. Kata commented back: “I thought you were sick in