A letter from Mark Adams, serving on the Mexican border
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About ten years ago, weeds wouldn’t even grow on the land that was given to DouglaPrieta Trabaja (DPT), a grass-roots community group that promotes food security. But they dreamed big — they dreamed of converting the barren land into a food jungle. And with a lot of hard work, tons of different types of manure, and a beaucoup of compost, laughter, tears and prayer, they are producing more vegetables than their families can eat. And they are blessing their community not only with fresh vegetables, but also with an example of faith and perseverance.
When Rosalinda and Jose Luis, two of the founding members of DouglaPrieta, took us out to see the parcel of desolate land in the poorest neighborhood of Agua Prieta, the land that they envisioned would become a “food jungle” in the midst of a food desert, a place of hope in the midst of despair, I have to admit that while I may have nodded my head in tacit agreement, what was going through my mind was “are they crazy?”
And yet Frontera de Cristo, the ministry with whom we serve, has a history of collaborating with people who have “crazy dreams” and informally agreed to work with them.
At a particularly difficult time in DouglaPrieta’s history, their board approached Frontera de Cristo about “taking over operations.” While Frontera de Cristo declined to do that, its board asked Miriam, who had already been working with the women in the transformation of the barren land into productive land, if she would become the formal liaison with the ministry. Through a continuing education grant from Presbyterian World Mission, she attended a three- week intensive training to become a certified permaculture instructor. Combining the words “permanent” and “agriculture,” permaculture is a way to live in a region for many generations, taking care of people and taking care of the environment at the same time.
Miriam says that her work with the women and the earth is a privilege and blessing. “It is such a pleasure to work with women with such persistence and faith, and to see how they have developed their talents and grown in their understanding of working not only for themselves and their families, but for the community. In difficult situations, they have been strong and been able to persevere. We are cultivating not just the soil, but also community. We sow seeds that grow into nutritious food for the body and the soul. Our greatest hope is that they can recognize God’s purpose in their life and experience the kingdom of God that is breaking forth among them ….”
Esther Verdugo, a deacon of the Lirio de los Valles Presbyterian Church and member of DouglaPrieta, says that “DouglaPrieta inspires us to work toward the Mexican dream of family unity. Too many of us have bought into the American dream and our families have been divided.” Sister Esther’s husband initially told her that she would be “wasting her time” working in a community garden without pay. She proudly says that she persisted and told her husband that she would reap the fruit of her hands and that it would bless not only their family but others. She beams now when her husband, children and her grandchildren work by her side in the community garden.
At DouglaPrieta’s anniversary, Rosalinda Sagaste Chavez, one of the founders, thanked Frontera de Cristo for believing in their dream and accompanying them on their journey to its realization. Yet, it is we who are honored to be invited to participate with them to be a part of God’s amazing, creative and transformative community-building and life-giving work.
Each Thursday, our binational interns spend their mornings working with the women in the community garden. While they do provide some help for the garden, our desire is that they learn about stewardship of the earth’s resources, get their hands dirty, and learn from the persistence of the women of DouglaPrieta.
Xitlali Garcia served as one of FDC’s binational interns over the last year. She is a member of the Voz del Desierto Presbyterian Church in Hermosillo, Sonora. She finished her ministry with us in August and will begin a year of service as a PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer in Tucson. Her primary ministry with us was the children’s educational enrichment ministry, where she excelled. However, it was in her participation with the women of DouglaPrieta that her spirit was filled and she was encouraged to do her ministry: “The women of DouglaPrieta are beautiful inside and out and have gifted me with so much love. They have always been so supportive and (are) always ready to share incredible encouragement. They are my examples to follow: brave women also working toward their goals.”
Whether it is with an amazing group of women who envision creating something out of nothing, or a with a group of farmers determined to transform their community by creating an international roasting business; or with an unlikely group of Presbyterians and Catholics who decide to work together to provide a welcome to those children of God who are being rejected by the economy of their home countries and the immigration policies of the United States; or with a group of recovering addicts who believe we can provide support for the children, youth and families of Agua Prieta in living fulfilling drug-free lives, Frontera de Cristo, the ministry with whom we are blessed to serve, accepts the invitation of unlikely people to dream big, and it works with them toward a world that reflects God’s love.
Thank you for dreaming with us and helping those dreams come true. We cherish the opportunity and responsibility to serve as your mission co-workers on the US/Mexico border and beyond. We are grateful for your prayers, words of encouragement and financial support. For they help sustain our life and ministry here with our incredible community that God continues bringing together to do surprising things in unlikely places.
Please read this important message from Jose Luis Casal, Director, Presbyterian World Mission
Dear Friend of Presbyterian Mission,
What a joy to send this letter! As Presbyterian World Mission’s new director, I thank God for your faithful support of our mission co-workers. The enclosed newsletter celebrates the work you made possible by your prayers, engagement, and generous financial gifts. We can’t thank you enough.
After I began in April, I met with mission co-workers and global partners and was blessed to see firsthand the mighty ways God is working through them! Our global partners are asking us to help them move forward with life-changing ministries. Because of your support, we can say “yes” to these creative and exciting initiatives.
I write to invite you to make an even deeper commitment to this work. First, would you make a year-end gift for the sending and support of our mission co-workers? We need your gifts to end the year strong. With your help, we filled two new mission co-worker positions and plan to recruit for others. The needs in the world are great, and World Mission is poised to answer the call to serve.
Second, would you ask your session to add our mission co-workers to your congregation’s mission budget for 2018 and beyond? Our mission co-workers serve three-year or four-year terms. Your multi-year commitment will encourage them greatly.
Our mission co-workers are funded entirely from the special gifts of individuals and congregations like yours. Now more than ever, we need your financial support.
In faith, our mission co-workers accepted a call to mission service. In faith, World Mission sent them to work with our global partners. In faith, will you also commit to support this work with your prayers and financial gifts?
Jose Luis Casal
P.S. Your gift will help meet critical needs of our global partners. Thank you!
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Tags: DouglaPrieta, food security, Frontera de Cristo, permaculture
Tags: Mark Adams and Miriam Maldonado Escobar
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