I took a detour of sorts to Santa Fe for a few days. Plans were to leave Juarez for Phoenix on May 12 and fly on the 13th to North Carolina to attend a celebration of Mission with Mexico at Montreat. The Celebration was canceled, so I went to Santa Fe where I stayed with Erik Mason, an elder at Westminster PC and a friend from Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and the Colombia Accompaniment Program. He has a magnificent guest house and offered magnificent hospitality. He quickly arranged for me to speak in Sunday School and friends I made in Colombia came from FPC to see and hear me. We had an engaging conversation about Presbyterian Border Ministry and the border in general. Then an incredible bilingual worship service.
I used the spare time to do some collating and writing and reflecting. Also visited a few art galleries. Santa Fe, I'm sure you know, is close to Georgia O'Keefe's home within the present Presbyterian Conference Center at Ghost Ranch.
I also was able to go to Las Vegas, NM to interview Randy Campbell who was the second co-coordinator of Compañeros en Misión at Noglaes and Hermosillo. It was good to see him again. For those of you from Redstone Presbytery, Randy was the room mate of Bruce Caddenhead in seminary. (Bruce is in photos to right playing with children in Nogales in 1999 or 2000).
My trip to Santa Fe was event-full. I left Juarez and stopped at the hospital in El Paso to visit and pray with my Juarez host famly who had welcomed a baby boy to their family on Thursday night. He was healthy and in my prayer I welcomed him as a new citizen of the U.S. Unfortunately, his father, Rosendo, could not be at his birth because as a teenager, he tried to cross without papers and got caught. He's now 40. He applied for a pardon and has been told he will get it but the bureaucracy ran too slowly.
From Juarez, the road was good and I made good time until I got about 100 miles from Santa Fe. I saw rain; stopped and put on rain gear; started out; rain started; just as I was about to crest a hill all "hail" broke out. The hail was the size of large marbles. I do not believe I've ever been in a hail storm. Fortunately, a state park turn off was right there and I pulled into it. My gear protected everything but my hands. The gloves simply weren't thick enough. I tucked them under me and waited. After about ten minutes the storm let up after putting down two to three inches on the ground so I had to wait until trucks and cars cleared the road enough to not be driving through the stuff. From there all was well.
After a few days in Santa Fe, I headed for Agua Prieta. I took a scenic highway from south of Truth or Consequences to Silver City. It's a beautiful road that goes through a mountian area. I got some great pictures including the ones of the bicyclists.
Agua Prieta is in the Sonoran Desert so I went from Alpine Mountains to the desert in a few hours. It is beautiful country and since the region had gotten a fair amount of rain in the last week, it was greener than usual with a lot of flowering cacti.
I arrived in Agua Prieta a little early and went to the Just Coffee roasting and packing house where I met up with my host Adrian and had opportunity to see my many friends there. it is so great to see so many doing well now after years of seeing them struggle just to get food to the table. It s clear they enjoy roasting the coffee for brothers and sisters in the U.S. and Mexico who drink it. They know I don't drink it but enjoy goading me about it by always offering me coffee with a grin that sort of says, "Have you come to your senses?" Mark Adams, coordinator of Frontera de Cristo, and I are the only people they know who do not drink coffee and they know we are both from the Southeast (a vague idea to most), so they wonder what is wrong with us.
I always enjoy Agua Prieta because I have so many friends there and despite only seeing me occasionally they seem to have a incredible memory of my family and ask about them. "Como esta Keembly (Kimberly) y Cele (Celese) . . . y sus nietos?"
My hosts, Adrian and Febe, were children when I first met them. Adrian is more or less the age of my children, Jason and Christy. Febe arrived at the border with her mother and brothers two years after her father and older sister, Miriam, did. Eventually, Miriam married Mark Adams. It was nice to stay with Adrian who now speaks very good English and Febe who is simply delightful.
I had a number of very good interviews with participants of Frontera de Cristo. It was also nice to get to worship in the new sanctuary of the church which the congregation insisted on building themselves with their own resources if they were going to claim to be self sufficient. (Several people from the U.S. offered to pay for the sanctuary.) It is quite nice with a new sound system and video projection system. It isn't finished, but it is well on the way.
The church has also spawned two missions in various areas of the city. It takes folks from their worship, but they are thanful to have prospered so.
One sad note: I heard the week before I arrived that Pastor Rudolfo was in the hospital but no word why. It turned out he had developed an infection in his little toe that he did not attend to well. The bacteria began to move up his foot and leg and he still did not go for treatment. By the time he had to go, it had gotten beyond treatment so they had to amputate his leg above the knee. He is doing well and says, "I still have one leg so we'll be all right."
Home Land Security has rebuilt the fences in many areas. This fence has replaced the more decorative fence built 15 or so years ago. This one is made of steel 'L' beams concreted 10 ft. into te ground and topped with plates so climbing over is nearly impossible. There is a concrete ditch on the U.S. side that is too deep to climb out of. There is then a lower fence. Your tax dollars at work. A similar style fece is built in almost all the cities I visited along the border.