A letter from Andres Garcia in Mexico
Dear Friends and Partners in Mission,
For some time Gloria and I have wanted to write in response to the cards and letters we have received telling us of your prayers and personal support of our mission service here at the U.S–Mexico border. Time has passed by fast and here we are wishing the clock’s needles could go backward, recovering the closeness and friendship we enjoyed when we gathered around your home table. In looking at past days, things for us have been full of work in this context of unique challenges to mission here at the northern Mexico border. We have been here in the Reynosa area for three years already, crossing the border back and forth every week and every day, usually facing the fear of getting trapped in the crossfire between narco-traficants (drug cartels) and Mexican federal soldiers. This picture seems scary; nevertheless, that is the real world in which hundreds of thousands of neighbors here live day by day.
Gloria and I continue serving as co-directors of Puentes de Cristo, which is one of the six ministries sites of the PC(USA) on the U.S.–Mexico border. Currently Puentes de Cristo is developing several projects—initiatives focused on evangelism through vocational education for women and kids and the self-development of people. The tiny story in the Gospel of Luke (15:3-7) of the lost sheep has a special meaning for us when we see how the life of Emilio's family has now changed for good. As is very common in peripheral neighborhoods in Reynosa city, after Emilio finish high school, he married his girlfriend, Paula, and soon had two kids: Adrian and Sandra, today 5 and 4 years old. Since Emilio ended school he could not find a regular job and the only source for living was collecting and selling used items at the flea market every weekend. Emilio's household was enduring hard times, but a year ago Paula finished her training in sewing at Puentes Community Center and started a small sewing workshop at home. Paula tells us they are doing much better now and since they came to know Christ through Puentes devotionals, life for them and their two kids is full of hope and optimism now. We pray and hope the Puentes de Cristo ministry, with the support from the Presbyterian family nationwide, will continue to bring blessing and hope to our brothers and sisters in Christ in this corner of the earth.
You probably want to know about our family. Our son, Ofir, and daughter, Vary, both are doing fine. Ofir and family moved from College Station, Texas, to Los Angeles two years ago. He got a new job in an industrial corporation in San Pedro, California, and now they live there. As you may recall, he and his wife, Karina, have two wonderful boys, Ilan Andres and Liam Saul, 5 and 1 respectively. They worship at Saint Peter by the Sea Presbyterian Church in San Pedro. Vary and Fred continue living in Charlottesville, Va. They also have a beautiful son, whose name is Julian; he is 1 year old now. Vary finished graduate school in psychology and works part-time in Charlottesville. All of us gathered last Christmas in Charlottesville and enjoyed the holidays together.
For now Gloria and I will continue living in Hidalgo, Texas, and Reynosa, Mexico. It sounds very uncommon, but that is the way in which we have to do things here because we are at the crossroads of two different worlds. Our lives feel divided by a paradoxical level of emotions that causes us to experience the trauma of a dysfunctional human reality that on one hand looks good, clean, plentiful of food, health, technology, progress and so on, and on the other hand, a few steps of walking across the border line, a vibrant but chaotic world in the sense that life in that social realm flows unpredictably according to the organized standards of modern and industrialized societies. We spend our time at work one day here, the next day there—one time at the desk site with the help of a computer but later with a machete or a shovel in our hands for meeting the needs and goals of the workday. Last week was a good one because the cities of Reynosa and Hidalgo celebrated a border fest in which municipal authorities, community leaders and people met at the International Bridge to exchange cultural gifts and pay tribute to friendship between the two cities and both countries. There were mariachis, country music bands, and also a lot of Mexican and Texas regional food, dancing, beer and tequila.
The border fest was awesome, but then the following week the city of Reynosa was taken over by the drug cartels. I was riding a taxi on the Reynosa-Monterrey highway when all traffic was ordered to detour by civil guards heavily armed with AK-47 machine guns. The taxi driver told me: “Those guards are not policemen but members of one of the cartels engaged at this precise moment in the shooting.” The driver and I were scared but I was able to return to Hidalgo that evening.
For now our desire and plan is to continue serving at Puentes de Cristo to facilitate communication with people and churches north-south, to develop strategy and field mission projects on both sides of the border in Rio Grande Valley. Our goal is to spend the last period of our mission service here. Thus you can be in touch through our newsletters posted on our Mission Connections page at the website of the PC(USA) (see the "Read more" link below). You also can see us at work on the Puentes website: www.puentesdecristo.org. It is very important to mention that for now and the future to come Gloria and I are and will be in need of your financial support for making possible the continuity of this wonderful ministry here at the border. We pray with amazing hope in our family in Christ they will be bold to respond in the measure of the amazing grace received from God every moment of their lives.
In ending this letter, Gloria and I wish to give you a big hug and express from deep in our hearts this love and passion that make you and us one in the service to Christ.
May the Everlasting and Gracious God be with you always.
Andres and Gloria Garcia