Hildago County Mission Work Facilitates Change

Date Posted: 11/15/2011

In October, 2011, 35 provisional elders and deacons, along with Bishop Huie and members of the Cabinet, heard and responded to God’s call to serve Christ for the least of God’s children, the poor of Hidalgo County, Texas, where 35.2 % of the population lives below the poverty line. The team traveled to the border Colonia, Los Narajonos, pulling district disaster response trailers, to repair homes, share the love of Christ, and help bring change. Once there, they found that they were the ones most profoundly changed. They will never be the same. As Bishop Huie noted, “This mission trip was an exciting opportunity for the Cabinet and me both in terms of getting to know members of our potential ordination class and in terms of working together to make a difference in peoples’ lives. As is always the case, the lives that were most changed were our own.”


The team worked on four trailer homes that were missing roofs, siding, and paint, as well as building a small worship deck in the front of one of the trailers. They worked side by side with family members, local pastors and community members, two ‘nomads’, Don and Otto (retirees who bring their tools and skills each winter to Hidalgo county), and a myriad of dogs, horny toads, red ants, and other creatures. They worshipped, fellowshipped, and ate together, sharing joys, sorrows, and cool treats from a local ice cream vendor. All were blessed. All saw God in new ways each day. All want to return next year with one or more members of their churches. Here is what some of the team members had to say:


“I saw God in the life of Otto, a volunteer who helped on the construction site giving patient guidance to novice laborers. His testimony of helping others in need is inspiring. My life was impacted by the people we helped, the hope they received and the fellowship we enjoyed with the clients and with those who attended. It was a great few days. I loved the closing worship service on Saturday night. I think putting faces on the plight of those who are on the margins was most important to me. These are real families who only what we want for our own families.” District Superintendent Dick White


“I saw God in many people and places. My best memory was of Otto the volunteer from up north who freely gave of his time; he was so patient and worked on the house like it was his own. He trained me how to drill holes and run electrical wire. He was awesome, like a grandfather on watch. I was impacted by the love shown from the people of the Colonia. I learned that God is everywhere and that it does not matter where you live, or how much you have, God is still worthy to be praised, as demonstrated when we had the outdoor service with the wind blowing, children, and dogs and chickens running around. Amen”  Rev. Mellonie Baldwin


“Sometimes, when you're in and out of the church office day after day, it's easy to allow your vision for ministry and God's calling on your life to become blurred around the edges. Having the opportunity to serve others, not as much with my voice, but with my hands and back and sweat, somehow sharpened my perspective. It refocused and reoriented my heart toward God such that the life of ministry was made clear once again. And to be able to minister with fellow pastors was a rare gift that filled the experience with joy.” Rev. Lindsay Kirkpatrick


“The better question would be, “Where didn’t I see God?” That is because God was present in the nomads who gave us support, direction, and even did magic tricks for us. God was present in the team members as they patiently taught each other how to use power tools and encouraged one another to do new things. God was present as we held hands and prayed at the border. God was present as we sang “Hallelujah” after dinner one night and the tears flowed from my eyes. God was present as we worshipped in both Spanish and English in the yard of one of the families we served. I saw Jesus in the face of a man named Danny who was very excited to cook chicken and beans and serve it to us! So God was present, powerful, and empowering—I saw God everywhere!” Rev. Deanna Young


“I saw God in the unique gifts and abilities that were brought together as part of the Body of Christ to serve in this ministry. Together we brought glory to God as we served side by side. Together we grew in love for God, love for neighbor and love for each other. It was truly a blessed experience!” Rev. Laralee De Hart


I saw God in the work that we did and the people that we helped. Without a willing spirit from both parties this mission trip would not have been possible. You could see God in the heart that was evident in all involved and the generous spirit of the people we helped. They helped us as we helped them, food, fellowship, encouragement. In fact, one of our clients even climbed up on the roof of his home to help us paint. Rev. Brian A. Brooks


“I saw God in the hospitality of the local people and their love for God; in the faithfulness of the clergy ministering in this area; and in the patience of those on the mission team who were skilled in refinishing a house with the rest of us who were not. They team members encouraged us and invited us to help, by hanging doors, installing windows, insulation, wiring, siding, roofing and hanging sheetrock.” Rev. Mark Pickett

“…Only in coming to Christ, only in following the Christ I found in the gospels, did I finally find a definition for justice which satisfied my soul and which had real and lasting meaning in the world I was finding in marginalized communities… The truths that Los Naranjos placed before me about struggle and justice, about who I have become, and who I am called to be were unavoidable.  In their struggle, I was confronted by my infidelity [to God’s call to work for justice] and failure. In their joy and community in the midst of that struggle, I was witness to the Church alive and meaningful. Now back in my appointment, I must wrestle with not being pulled back into the constant business of the practical matters involved in being a church. I am challenged to find ways to share the vision I have found again. Los Naranjos and the border have become an Ebenezer for me; calling me back to the weightier issues of Justice that I have always been called to confront as a fundamental role of the Church.” Rev. Brian Wharton


“I saw God in the faces of the people we met in the Colonia; not only in the residents, but also in the nomads, our construction supervisors. Otto comes down every year from Iowa to supervise construction sites and lead groups like ours who are hoping to make a difference in the lives of those on the margins. He feels that it was a divine call that brought him and his wife to the McAllen area over 7 years ago. (His wife died four years ago, but he still makes the journey alone.) I never knew about the Nomads before this trip. What an awesome way to spend some of those retirement years-making a real difference in the lives of others. Several of us were so inspired by this trip that we would like to come back every year to contribute in some small way to the lives of the people we met and to remind ourselves of the call that Christ made on each of our lives. Some of us serve churches that have not been active in mission work for quite some time, but this might be a way to change that.” Rev. Lani Rousseau


They want to go back next year. Why don’t you join them? You will never be the same!