Building together

A PC(USA) mission letter from Mexico (2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 37)

November 19, 2014

James and Hugo, bi-national interns of Frontera de Cristo.

James and Hugo, bi-national interns of Frontera de Cristo. —Mark Adams and Miriam Maldanado

AGUA PRIETA, Sonora, Mexico

“You too are being built together as a dwelling in which God dwells by God’s spirit.” ― Eph. 2:22.

Ephesians 2:11-22 was chosen 30 years ago to be the theme passage for all of the Presbyterian Border Ministry, of which Frontera de Cristo is a part. On November 22 we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary.

We give thanks to God for the ways in which we have been, are being, and will be built together as a dwelling for God — folks from the U.S. and folks from Mexico; poor and rich; folks recovering from addictions, teetotalers, and folks not yet in recovering; conservative and liberal; Presbyterian, Catholic, Mennonite, Quaker, Episcopalian, non-denominational, seeker, people of conscience, and others.

In August we were blessed to have Juna Rosales Mueller come and share three weeks with us, working with DouglaPrieta and CRREDA in the continued development of a vision that she first had in the Lirio de los Valles Presbyterian Church sanctuary as part of the Woolman School Mission Education Delegation three years ago. 

After spending more than six hours with our Agua Para La Vida ministry, walking migrant trails in the desert and encountering many clothes that had been left behind by the persons migrating, Juna reflected on her experiences of the day and saw a quilt forming from the clothes — a quilt that would help tell the human story of migration and would serve to build relationships and understanding across borders.

During her three weeks with us Miriam facilitated Juna’s return to the desert to walk the migrant trails again — this time our partners of the DouglaPrieta community garden and CRREDA drug rehabilitation center joined her. Together they worked to quilt together pieces of fabric into a ballet folklorico skirt that will be used in our 30th anniversary celebration. 

CRREDA and DouglaPrieta participants arrive at the U.S./Mexico border after collecting clothes along the Migrant Trail.

CRREDA and DouglaPrieta participants arrive at the U.S./Mexico border after collecting clothes along the Migrant Trail. —Mark Adams and Miriam Maldanado

It is part of the ongoing series of quilts she is doing and for us highlights the ways in which God brings together pieces of the fabric of humanity that perhaps no one thinks could ever be brought together to create something beautiful.

Juna says of the project: “Mending Patriotism is a series of quilts made from clothing cast off by migrants attempting to cross Mexico's Sonoran Desert toward the U.S. border. The project aims to provide a space for learning and exchange around the issues of border-crossing, human migration, and national identity. Quilts have historically been used to signify safe houses, most notably on the Underground Railroad. In our modern day, how do people seeking refuge identify allies? In what ways can we as individuals participate in nation-wide concerns? What is our collective vision of a patriotism we feel comfortable owning?”

The wedding of Beto Ramos, the Mexican coordinator of the Migrant Resource Center, and Perla del Angel, a lawyer of the Border Rights Abuse Documentation Program, gave us an opportunity to experience the beauty of what God is doing in weaving us together as a beautiful tapestry. 

Father Cayetano reflected on the reality that God had brought the lives of Beto and Perla together through the Migrant Resource Center, a ministry of Frontera de Cristo and the Sagrada Familia Parrish that celebrated eight years of service to over 80,000 men, women and children this past summer. 

The MRC has brought together not only a couple, but also a community of faith that breaks down walls of religious, political, economic and cultural prejudice through its mission of providing a place of welcome to those who find themselves far from home. 

James, one of our bi-national interns, describes the Migrant Resource Center as a place “where we help people who have had their dreams and hopes of a better life crushed, people who have been separated from their families by force, people have been kidnapped and tortured in the desert and families who come to look for their lost ones. In many ways it is a place of deep pain and suffering of people caused by humans themselves through poverty, violence and unjust laws.”

However, he continues, “it is in the suffering that is felt by these migrants that God is also present. One lady who had been separated from her family in United States and felt that she had lost all hope after her deportation described the migrant resource center as a place that was like being in the arms of her mother again. So even in the amidst of this suffering and violations of human rights on the border God is at work, and at Frontera de Cristo I have the privilege of being a part of God’s work this year on the border in both the hope and the pain of the cross.”

Hugo Licona, another of our bi-national interns, marveled at what he had learned and experienced since arriving in Agua Prieta and shared his surprise of being in a Catholic church for a wedding. “Here I have learned that while we might have different theological understandings, we can work together for the common purpose of loving God and loving our neighbor.”

Through 30 years of bi-national ministry, God has brought together many multi-faceted, multi-colored blocks in building a divine dwelling.

We are grateful for your partnership that helps make possible for us to be a part of what God is constructing. We ask you to pray with us that God may give us courage to cross new borders as we continue to seek to be proactive, positive and faithful witnesses here on the U.S./Mexico border and beyond! 

Mark Adams and Miriam Maldonado are mission co-workers with the Presbyterian Border Ministry in Agua Prieta, Mexico, where Mark has served since 1998. As U.S. coordinator of the binational ministry, Frontera de Cristo, Mark is responsible, in partnership with Rev. Angel Valencia of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico, for the coordination of the six ministry areas of Frontera de Cristo. Miriam connects people and organizations across borders and serves as a liaison of Frontera de Cristo with the Center for Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation and Recuperation (CRREDA in Spanish), DouglaPrieta Trabaja and the Lirio de los Valles Presbyterian Church.