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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Border ministry collaboration turns barren land into garden of plenty

‘Brave women working toward their goals’ provide inspiration and sustenance

March 29, 2018

About 10 years ago, even weeds wouldn’t grow on the land that was given to DouglaPrieta Trabaja, a grassroots community group that promotes food security. But the group’s members dreamed big. They dreamed of converting the barren land in the Mexican border town of Agua Prieta into a food jungle. And with lots of hard work, tons of different types of manure, and loads 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 two of the founding members of DouglaPrieta took us to see the desolate land that they envisioned would become a “food jungle,” I may have nodded but I was thinking, “Are they crazy?”

And yet Frontera de Cristo, the ministry with whom we serve on the U.S./Mexico border, has a history of collaborating with people who have “crazy dreams” and agreed to work with them.

At a particularly difficult time in DouglaPrieta’s history, their board approached Frontera de Cristo about taking over operations. Although Frontera de Cristo declined, its board asked a local woman named Miriam, who had already been working with other women in to make the barren land productive, 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 session 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 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, “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.” 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 too. She beams now when her husband, children and grandchildren work by her side in the community garden.

At DouglaPrieta’s anniversary commemoration, 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 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.

Xitlalli Garcia Roblero served as one of Frontera de Cristo’s binational interns last year. After she finished her ministry with us in August, she began a year of service as a PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer in Tucson.

“The women of DouglaPrieta are beautiful inside and out and have gifted me with so much love,” she said. “They have always been so supportive and always ready to share incredible encouragement. They are my examples to follow: brave women also working toward their goals.”

Whether through this project or other ways of serving God, Frontera de Cristo 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 U.S./Mexico border and beyond. We are grateful for your prayers, encouragement and financial support. They help sustain our life and ministry here with our incredible community that God continues bringing together to do surprising things in unlikely places.

Mark Adams, Mission Co-Worker on the Mexican Border

Today’s Focus:  Border Ministry

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Casey Hill, FDN
Michael Hilliard, PPC

Let us pray:

Creator God, we give you thanks that you crossed the divine-human border to walk with us and to reconcile us to yourself and to one another. Give us courage to follow your call to cross borders in our church, our community and our world in order to be ministers of reconciliation. Amen.

Daily Readings

Morning Psalms 27; 147:12-20
First Reading Lamentations 2:10-18
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 10:14-17; 11:27-32
Gospel Reading Mark 14:12-25
Evening Psalms 126; 102