By Rich Reader and David Rizo
In Mexico Christmas gifts are given on January 6th, in honor of the visit of the three wise men. In keeping with this tradition, several groups from the US visited the mission this last weekend to distribute gifts food, clothing, blankets, tarps, and toys. The youth ministry assists by assigning a team to each US group to assist them in their events. Generally, tickets are issued during the week preceding the event by those involved in doing social ministry and know who is needy. However, sometimes we just canvas a poor area and go door to door. In doing so, we learned about 2 more families with special needs children and two more families who have medical needs. Sometimes we are met with a bit of skepticism or bewilderment as we explain not only the upcoming event, but what services are available to them. A ticket to such an event can open doors and, of course, kids are thrilled by the toys.
We talked to the mother and a 16 year old boy, who could not go to secondary school, because he lacked a birth certificate. He was born at home. For $150, you can get a DNA test and get a birth certificate, but that is out of their reach. His 10 year old sister got excused from school because she failed to bring in school supplies as required by the school. Through our donors we are able to help with school supplies, so it was good to discover this situation. We also met a man and his wife who recently moved into this community. He is a double amputee. The battery in his wheel chair is failing. Recently his wheelchair gave out and began rolling down hill and a passerby rescued him. We mentioned to the mothers of the special needs children we met, that the Oblate mission here offers a free school, where children can learn to be more independent. As we visited the different households, we especially liked listing the programs available (English classes, Taekwondo, scholarships, SEARCH retreats, social ministry opportunities, psychological services, weekly youth mass, music, etc.) when we encounter teens.
At the main event, over 60 youth took turns escorting a family through the line to get food, supplies and toys. Then the youth help them carry the bags. Can you imagine the impact on the younger kids seeing older youth, serving with gratitude and smiles?