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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Unbroken: in spite of what drug wars did to her Mexican village

Thanks to one historically Presbyterian racial ethnic school, Monika Ruiz is following her dreams

Monika Ruiz

February 3, 2017

KINGSVILLE, Texas. As a young teenager, Monika Ruiz made a life-altering decision.

The village she’d grown up in—San Fernando, in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico—was being destroyed by the elements of drug wars— killings, violence, and corruption.

“I couldn’t even go into my backyard,” says Ruiz, who is a sophomore at Presbyterian-affiliated Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas. “I came home from school every day wondering if I’d make it, or get kidnaped.”

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Ruiz remembers waking up one day to the news “Your uncle was killed today.”

She started crying and ran up the stairs of her home shouting, “I’m leaving, I’m leaving.” Her uncle, a doctor, was her favorite, always encouraging her to follow her dreams.

“It was at that point that I broke,” says Ruiz. “Other than my dad, he was my hero, a doctor who encouraged me to follow my dreams.”

Ruiz went online, applying to Presbyterian Pan American School (Pan Am) in Kingsville, Texas. She remembered the historically Presbyterian racial ethnic school from trips she’d taken as a little girl to visit relatives in Houston.

“The school looked like it was out of Harry Potter,” she says. “As we drove by the Presbyterian Pan Am sign, I would say, ‘Dad, that’s my school.’”

Laughing, Ruiz says she believes God works in mysterious ways.  After completing the application process to Pan Am on her own, the school’s admission counselor reached out to her.

“Mr. Joe Garcia said, ‘You know your parents have to sign a contract,’” says Ruiz, who remembers going to her dad and having the following conversation:

“What are you doing this Saturday?” 

“Nothing, why?”

“You have an appointment at Presbyterian Pan Am School.” 

“We can’t afford that, it’s in another country, it’s going to be too expensive.” 

“No, please, take me.”

Because Ruiz was awarded a scholarship because of her grades, her family didn’t have to pay full-time tuition. She enrolled at Pan Am in 2012 as a sophomore, and graduated in 2014.

“Pan Am helped me define my purpose and calling,” says Ruiz. “It helped me improve my gifts and talents, and be ready for college.”

After Monika Ruiz graduates from Schreiner she wants to become a Young Adult Volunteer for a year.  Then she hopes to go to seminary to become a chaplain or missionary nurse.

“I’ve seen how Presbyterians work and believe in what they’re doing around the world,” she says. “They were so welcoming to me. I would love to help people the way I was helped, when I was seeing the violence in Mexico. Presbyterians are like family to me now.”

Paul Seebeck, mission communications strategist, Presbyterian News Service

Today’s Focus:  Presbyterian Pan American School Staff

Let us join in prayer for:

Presbyterian Pan American School Staff

Rev. Dr. Doug Dalglish, president
Mr. Greg Hopper, chief financial officer
Mrs. Ellie Perez, M. Ed., principal/counselor

PC(USA) Mission Co-workers

Amanda Craft, US-Mexico border
Omar Chan Giron, US-Mexico border

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Michelle Schulz, PMA                                                                                   
Wilma Scott, OGA

Let us pray

Guide, nurture, and sustain, O God, all those you call into your ministry and service. May they, in whatever calling of yours they follow, find in you the direction to lead your people faithfully in, and to your will and purpose for, their individual and communal lives. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 84; 148
First Reading Isaiah 55:1-13
Second Reading Galatians 5:16-24
Gospel Reading Mark 9:2-13
Evening Psalms 25; 40