In 2009, I had the privilege of joining my friend Stacey and my daughter Ariel on a brief visit to Reynosa Mexico, just across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas. During that time, we developed an idea in which a group of adults from Crafton Heights could return and engage in a cross-cultural mission experience in partnership with the churches in South Texas and North Mexico. In 2010, the Church sent a team of 8 adults, and ever since then we’ve been able to enjoy growing relationships with two churches on the Texas side of the border: The First Presbyterian Church of Mission and Solomon’s Porch Faith Community in McAllen. These two churches have hosted us, fed us, and walked with us as we consider the ways in which God invites us to grow in our understanding of what it means to be one body in Christ.
Each year, we leave Pittsburgh, ostensibly to join together with service agencies such as Faith Communities for Disaster Recovery or Presbyterian Disaster Assistance in order to provide adequate housing for those affected by tragedy. And we do. In the days to come, you’ll see photos of us doing something.
But truth be told, I’m here for the food.
Ok, not literally. But I’m not here only to hold a hammer or a paintbrush. If that was the only goal, we’d have some cool fundraisers and send a check so that the folks here could hire real painters or drywall hangers. But we have the fundraisers and send ourselves, because we believe that what happens inside us is as important as anything we might accomplish in the way of home rehab. And for me, a lot of times that happens around the dinner table as we share stories, remember hardship, and revel in laughter.
We arrived in Houston Texas on Saturday morning and drove about six hours south to Mission, Texas. When we got here, our friends from FPC mission were waiting with beef brisket and smoked turkey and all manner of delicious food. We shared that meal with our team of 13 and an equal number of Texans. Sunday morning we had the privilege of worshiping twice: once in English and once in a bilingual service.
The service at Solomon’s Porch was incredibly personal for our team because David and Joe brought the sermon as they preached about the impact of our recent trip to Malawi (see this post and the ones following for more about that trip!). Our hosts were so moved by the experience that they presented the preachers with a special gift…
After worship, the members of Solomon’s Porch presented us with a meal consisting of… wait for it… beef brisket and smoked turkey and all manner of delicious food. More than that, they gave us the gift of themselves in conversation and partnership.
Following the meal, our team visited La Lomita Chapel on the banks of the Rio Grande and marveled at the history of this area. We were further blessed to wander around in 85° sunshine at the Bentson-Rio Grande State Park. Some of us caught a glimpse of a bobcat, and all of us enjoyed the wind and the sunshine.
We ended our first full day in Mission by listening to a concert by a local Barbershop chorus. We are constantly grateful for the ways that joy finds its way into our experiences here… and hope that these stories and photos will prompt you to think about your own journey this day.