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The Desert Rats

January 5, 2019
Chihuahua Desert View

I just returned from a four-day trip into the Chihuahuan Desert just across the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park. This is my fourth such Christmas trip, taking gifts and a fiesta to the people of the village of San Vicente, Mexico. The program is facilitated by Mision de Candelilla, and gifts are from the families of the Fredericksburg United Methodist Church to the families of San Vicente, all 36 of them, personalized, many from the same families for the 10 year history of this program.  The fiesta is simple: baked beans and fruit and bread and hot chocolate and cookies. Here are some pictorial observations.

Unmarked Grave in La Union, Mexico

Unmarked Grave in La Union, Mexico

These people are descended from both Hispanic and Indian ancestors. Life here is hard. The person buried in this grave appears to be forgotten. The grave is shallow because the rocky ground is very hard to dig.

Indian Woman in San Vicente

Indian Woman in San Vicente

This woman has a prayer shawl knitted by Methodist women in Fredericksburg.

Lilly, and 11 year old from Texas

Lilly, an 11 year old from Texas

Indian Girl

Indian Girl

These two girls, one born on the south side of the nearby river and the other on the north, have very different lives; Lilly was fun to get to know; while I never spoke to the Indian girl, I wish I could communicate in her langage (Spanish) so I could find out more about her life.

Prayer Circle

Prayer Circle or Family Reunion?

A local pastor, Bucho, opens the fiesta with a group prayer. This is more than a Christian tradition, it is a family reunion of the 36 families in the village, who are only all gathered once a year for this event. Most of the people in this village share the Brito name.

Mision de Candelilla team members gather at the river

Mision de Candelilla team members gather at the river

Exploring is part of the fun this group of veteran MDC volunteers has on their trips to Mexico. The other side of the river is Big Bend National Park. These are the fun people!

Volunteers make this mission happen

Volunteers Make This Mission Happen

Hutch is a long time participant in this mission. The drive is 13 hours, there are only outhouses and a single water spigot for plumbing, there is no electricity, and less heat. You can see from his smile what he thinks about it all.

Exploring the Desert

Exploring the Desert

Katherine and Cathy are long time MDC volunteers and love exploring the desert. These two kids had a blast, learning about plants and picking up rocks. Yes, it is very cold and windy.

Fredericksburg Students

Fredericksburg students and their adult “supervisors”

While we were at San Vicente, this group was at a number of other villages with a similar program, headquartered in the village of La Union. Listening to their evening “sharing time” by lantern light was an emotional experience for all, adults and kids alike. As they say, the mission is Changing lives on both sides of the border.  This trip isn’t about the stuff being gifted, its about a relationship between people from Texas and Mexico.

The core work of MDC since 1986 has been providing medical care by volunteer medical professionals and able assistants for 9 villages along the Rio Grande, twice  per village each year. Medical trips are much different than these Christmas trips and are in the spring and fall. Volunteers pay a fee to participate, but most expenses are borne by the mission. If you are looking for adventure, check out their trip schedule. I wrote about this trip for Texas Hill a couple of years ago. The Desert Rats always need volunteers




From → Writing Fiction

  1. I like how “its about a relationship between people from Texas and Mexico.” How wonderful. 🙂

  2. Wonderful wonderful- my kinda thing – bless you all

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