A letter from Mark Adams and Miriam Maldonado Escobar on the U.S.–Mexico border
Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Day 2011
“If one part of the body suffers, all suffer with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26)
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
On this day between death and life, we have reflected as a family on the blessing of being part of a community of faith that shares in the sufferings and the joys of life.
A little over a month ago, on March 18, Elder Omar Morales called out, “Victoria Hernandez Ibarra,” and the congregation and friends of Lirio de los Valles Presbyterian Church responded: “Presente!” Our beloved Sister Vicki had died the night before and the congregation gathered to celebrate her life, to mourn her physical loss from our community of faith and to witness to the reality that she has joined the great cloud of witnesses who have finished their journey here on earth.
Vicki was a loving mother and wife, a committed member of Lirio de los Valles, a dedicated employee of Café Justo and a dear partner of Frontera de Cristo. She had the gift of making people feel welcome regardless of which side of the border they were from, what language they spoke (her smile communicated more than words) or what economic status they had.
Mark was asked to lead the congregation in a time of prayer during the service and shared the Scripture that a friend had shared with him after his mother’s death: “Jesus wept.” As we prayed, we cried and trusted that our tears were a sign of gratitude to God for Vicki’s life as well as tears of mourning. Our tears were a sign of how much we would miss the blessing of her presence.
On April 2 the church gathered in the same sanctuary in which we had joined to say “Good-bye” to Sister Vicki to celebrate our daughter Cindy’s quinceañera — a worship service of thanksgiving and celebration on the occasion of her 15th birthday. It was truly a community celebration and a binational one at that. Pastors, elders, music groups and other laity from both sides leading in worship; the women’s group coming together to make tamales; other families offering to provide the beans, others the drinks and others helping clean, set up or decorate the fellowship hall; a group of six youth dedicating hours of time to be chamberlains; and Café Justo, which Sister Vicki helped grow into a success, providing the coffee.
Even as the community of faith was coming to grips with the loss of life, it joined together to celebrate the life of our daughter, pray for her continued growth into a woman of faith, and shower her with words of encouragement and challenge. It was a beautiful celebration in which we recognized that the church is united not only in times of loss and suffering but also in times of celebration and joy.
On Wednesday of Holy Week at our weekly Biblical reflections, Café Justo was overflowing. In addition to the “usual suspects” (Frontera de Cristo staff and Café Justo personnel), youth from Lirio de los Valles, a delegation from Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington, Va., and Don Antonio Hernandez, Vicki’s father, from Puga, Nayarit, were present. Don Antonio and his wife, Doña Ignacia, have come up to be with Don Antonio’s son-in-law Daniel and grandson Danielito.
During the time of sharing things we are thankful for, Don Antonio shared that he was grateful to God to be with so many friends of his daughter Victoria from both sides of the border.
Together we shared in his gratitude for Sister Vicki’s life and the way in which she participated in bringing folks together from both sides of the border and shared her faith in Jesus Christ through words and deeds — in the way in which she sought to share comfort and prayed with single mothers in the community who were struggling, welcomed folks with a jovial smile, and even as she took her last breath encouraged her husband never to stop praising God, because God is so merciful.
We also shared in the ongoing grief of the Cifuentes Hernandez family as they continue adjusting to life without the physical presence of Sister Vicki. Through prayers, hugs, tears, listening ears and presence, we seek to put flesh on God’s comforting presence.
This is not part of the formal goals and objectives of Frontera de Cristo’s ministry, but it is who we are — a binational community of faith of persons seeking to follow Jesus into the joys and sufferings of the world and of our own lives in order to witness to the good news of Christ—the crucified King of Kings and the risen Lamb of God.
The Adams Maldonado Family
P.S. In the fall Sister Vicki shared with Stanley Leary, a professional videographer from Roswell Presbyterian Church in Roswell, Ga., what Café Justo meant to her family. You can see the video. She appears in the middle of the video.
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 283
Write to Mark Adams.
Write to Miriam Maldonado Escobar.
Give to Mark Adams and Miriam Maldonado Escobar’s sending and support. [You can always give online. See the Give box in the left column of everypage. —Ed.]