Saturday, April 7, 2007 twelve of us from Avalon boarded an airplane at Norfolk International Airport and amidst snow showers took off; our destination, Mexico. At about 5:00 pm Central Time we touched the ground in Laredo, Texas. To our surprise it was freezing in south Texas. The team made a short visit to Wal-Mart to pick up a few last necessities and I went looking for a blanket. After a bite to eat we crossed the boarder into Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. According to Wikipedia, the city of Nuevo Laredo is the northernmost city in the state of Tamaulipas, and lies at the extreme northwestern tip of its narrow strip of land along the Río Grande. The 2005 census population of the city was 348,387.
While the weather was unseasonably cool, the reception we received from our Mexican brothers and sisters was extremely warm. We spent the night with one of the local churches and attended an Easter sunrise service to celebrate the resurrection the next morning. The worship time was energetic and inspiring and two hours and in Spanish. Our team leader Rich Lemel from R.O.C. Ministries (http://www.bright-web.com/ROC/main.html) later told us that Mexican worship services always last two hours. We recognized a few hymns and shared communion and understood a few “Jesus Christo’s” during the sermon and all in all felt blessed to have the opportunity to worship God with our Mexican brothers and sisters. To our surprise the ladies of the congregation had prepared a meal for us to share following the service so we all experienced a real Mexican feast. We spent the rest of the day Sunday driving to our destination for the week, Monclova, located in the Mexican state of Coahuila.
We crossed part of the Sierra Madre Mountains and arrived in Monclova, population 198,819. (What a bumpy ride.) The church where we would be working for the week is located just outside the city of Monclova in a new neighborhood that was being developed for people to come to the area to find work. Now when I say developed, I don’t mean there were contractors paving roads and building houses, rather this colony consists of makeshift houses some with running water and some with indoor toilets, but mostly not. Our project for the week was to help put some of the finishing touches on a clinic that was built as a part of the church property to be an outreach to the community. This community which is very poor will be extremely blessed to have a medical facility so close and Avalon had a small part in making this a reality.
The rest of the week the team worked very hard to complete the many tasks that we were asked to accomplish. By the time we left, the clinic was very close to completion. There were only a few more projects that remained.
I was blown away by the Christians we met in Mexico; in particular the preachers and their families that we met were wonderful. I’ll tell one story. One day after we had finished working I was sitting on the porch of the preacher’s house (which, by the way, he and his wife had moved out of for the week so we could have a place to cook and eat, and where the ladies from our group could sleep) and the local preacher Miguel was talking to a man from the neighborhood. I do not speak much Spanish (“no mas concretó” is about all I learned) but, I could tell that Miguel was talking to the man about Jesus. It was beautiful. To hear the message of Jesus being told to this man was what it is all about. And I don’t mean that’s what this trip was all about, but that’s what this life is all about. “For God so loved the world… ”