March 30, 2022
McAllen, TX – Mar 20-26, 2022
By the Rio Grande
Among the top tier of Texas singer-songwriters is Tish Hinojosa. Born and raised in San Antonio, her parents were immigrants from Mexico and her songwriting blends her Hispanic and Texan roots. She reached a much wider audience with her album “Culture Swing,” released in 1992, with songs in spanish and english. “By the Rio Grande” is one of the best songs from that album.
Every river searches for the sea
Every life runs it’s own destiny
Canyons white and wild, stretches calm and mild
Cutting through the stones of history.
Our forefathers crossed the muddy line,
Pilgrims passing, leaving tracks in time
Once more to stand by the water, by the land,
Shifting like the sand, by the Rio Grande
At the MDS McAllen project in South Texas, volunteers who take the time to look can see historical sites along the Rio Grande. The town of Roma overlooks the uppermost point of steamboat travel on the river and a favorite river crossing for centuries of indigenous travelers. Port Isabel at the mouth has witnessed many travelers on the river, and now sees space travelers take off from Boca Chica at the SpaceX facility.
Two groups from Pennsylvania joined us this past week. One was a dozen young men from eastern PA and the other was five older volunteers from northwestern PA. Jan, from the older group, was a welcome and able assistant to Marilyn in the kitchen. Marilyn had used her experience in a food service career, working with four different people over 6 weeks, to keep the volunteers well fed and energized with good meals.
As we completed our next to last week of work during this 2021-22 season, these volunteers moved several of our jobs to completion. By the end of Thursday, our new house #6 was down to a few punch list items and is ready for dedication on Thursday morning. The biggest task remaining is having the HVAC contractor come to install the mini-split unit.
The repair job in Monte Alto that consisted of re-roofing and exterior siding replacement was completed. A bonus for the client was a new sturdy landing, built to replace the rickety metal steps at the main entry door. Having a professional electrician volunteer provided the knowledge to safely replace the siding behind the electrical service entrance to that house.
One of the repair jobs in Hargill was started and completed this week. The crew included three volunteers who were not afraid to get dirty as they jacked-up the house and replaced two badly damaged sub-floor beams. The second half of the job was replacing siding and termite damaged framing on the north wall of the house. The electrician was able to join that crew and again handled the service entrance work.
The second repair job in Hargill is in the home stretch. The extensive drywall and painting work will make it safer, brighter and easier to keep clean. We can see the finish line, although it is too easy to find one more thing to do at repair jobs.
New house #5 was celebrated this week with a dedication attended by all the MDS volunteers. The family asked a neighborhood community volunteer to serve as translator, but their big smiles and joyous laughter needed no translation. The oldest daughter arrived from school as the dedication was finishing, but in time to add her thanks to those expressed by the happy parents.
New house #7 is a little further behind, but we are confident a solid three days of work next week will get that house ready for dedication. The donated solid oak flooring looks lovely and the PINK bedroom for the daughter emits a glow through the window that is visible from the street.
Rio Grande runs south to Mexico
From the highway I have touched its shores
Reynosa to Sante Fe and back the other way
I’ve had my life planned by the Rio Grande
Having camped and hiked near the headwaters of the Rio Grande above Alamosa, Colorado, the grandeur of this river is obvious to me. Having spent the past few months in the lower RGV, it is sad that the waters that begin in majestic splendor are used to form a dividing line in their final miles before reaching the Gulf of Mexico. The cities, families and culture on both sides of the river share a common history.
As we enter our final week “By the Rio Grande,” may our work be a source for healing and hope for the twelve families we have been able to help.
From MDS McAllen in Hidalgo County, Texas
Janey, Audrey, Neil, Don, Nevin and Carl