It's hard to believe that this will be the 10th year anniversary from Hurricane Katrina relief for WRCC. We've actually sent 11 teams total over those 10 years since we went twice that first year after the hurricane. Over those years, we've seen God at work in amazing ways as we've come alongside Crossroads Missions and our mission partners, Bruce & Deborah Dale. This work on this mission field has evolved from disaster relief to re-building & community development, to inner city ministry and developing life changing relationships with the people of New Orleans. God has definitely taken something very tragic that occurred and used it to open a huge window to His Gospel and lives are being transformed for His Kingdom! We are grateful to all who've served on this field with us and to those who have prayed, given resources, provided encouragement along the way. Follow our 10th year anniversary team down to the Big Easy as we leave tomorrow. Grateful to represent Jesus and WRCC as we live out our mission, connecting every life to Jesus. #NOLA15
Good morning from "The Valley". This morning the skies are clear and the temperature is mild.
Shortly after arriving at the center this morning, 29 refugees in about 10 families arrived from the bus station. As they arrived, they received an ovation from all of the workers at the center. Water is given to everyone who desires it and after a brief orientation with the staff here, the families bus tickets are checked and they are paired with a volunteer sponsor. We are fortunate today to have the assistance of a group of nurses from Wisconsin.
At this point, we walk our new friend(s) through the stations at the center. First we take them to a table to receive hygiene items (combs, razors, toothbrush/toothpaste, etc.), next the families wash their hands and get a meal. While eating, we gather donated clothing (sometimes this can be tough, especially for us fashion challenged males). After the meal is completed and clothing has been selected, we move onto the showers. There are four showers located outside the building inside a trailer and a hot shower is greatly appreciated by our new friends. This has been a bottleneck for the process, where the wait times can be over an hour.
As a side note, a couple of our members have been making improvements that will be a great help to the refugees and staff.
When the showers are complete, the refugees go and use the restrooms ("banos" in Spanish) to brush teeth, fix hair, shave, etc. Next, if they would like to use the phone to make a call, they can. The small children have a place to play and anyone who would like another meal is welcome to eat all they desire. They have a restful wait at the center until they depart for the bus station to head all over the country.
The whole process take around two hours and can become a bit chaotic but is always very rewarding.
This afternoon we received 40 additional friends to help and the joy of Jesus Christ was spread by all.
As a personal note, spending time with our team from White River, all of the wonderful people of the Refugee Center, and the new friends I have met coming from the south has been one of the lifetime experiences I will never forget and I will miss our new friends in the valley and those headed all over the country greatly.
Your Servant in Christ,
Today we spent the day at the South Texas Refugee Center. Each day, refugees are able to come to the center, get a meal, a shower, a change of clothing, and many other items before they catch a bus to meet their family/sponsor somewhere in the U.S.
This morning, no refugees were at the center, so we helped organize donations, took a huge load of unusable items to the Salvation Army, and even made a small repair to the showers.
However, about 3:30 this afternoon, a bus of 27 refugees arrived at the center, and our team as well as the other volunteers serving there sprung into action.
As they entered the center, all the volunteers clapped for them, welcoming them warmly. The sweet faces of the children like Juan Pablo, Ismael, Aria, and others will be in our memories for many, many days. We saw the transformation that just a shower and a clean change of clothing can provide.
We had many language barriers since only one person on our team is fluent in Spanish, but our desire is that the refugee families were still able to see our love and most importantly the love of Christ through our actions from our welcome to waving good-bye as they got on the bus to begin the last leg of their journeys. On our way back to the retreat center, we got a message that another bus of 27 refugees will be coming in the morning, so we're heading to bed after a late dinner so that we're ready to greet new families in the morning.
This has been such an eye opening experience for all of us. I think our team would unanimously agree that we had no idea about the depth of the crisis here. Each day we learn a little more from the people that live and serve daily in the Rio Grande Valley. From churches that have the heart to open a center for victims of trafficking to a woman named Amy that left her job to come serve at the refugee center, there are so many people here that have given their lives to make a difference.
Thanks for your prayers for our team.
PS- Not to brag, but it was 85 and sunny here today. Heard it snowed in IN. :)
The South Texas Mission Team worshipped at Calvary Baptist Church, a great congregation that has been active at ministering in the Rio Grande Valley for many years. After the service, the team had lunch with several members of the mission ministry team that is spearheading the ministry efforts to refugees. It was an eye opening/mind blowing experience to hear all of the need and multilayered darkness related to the border crisis.
The team then traveled to a park near the border where people gathered on both sides of the Rio Grande River enjoying picnics and the warm weather, while border patrol heavily patrolled the water separating both sides. The team concluded the day with a tour/orientation at the South Texas Refugee Center where they will begin ministering on Monday.
Our team has had a good week. Due to lack of phone signal, we did not have communication with them on this trip but are so glad that they are now back in the U.S. They should arrive in Indy on time today (Saturday).