Thoughtful missions

Debbi Mashaw is my hero.

Debbi is from Zachary, Louisiana, and is on the staff of First Baptist Church Zachary.  She has brought a group of volunteers for nine years in a row to do all kinds of mission work throughout the Rio Grande Valley border area of Texas.

Yesterday, Debbi brought yet another fantastic group of volunteers to work in western Hidalgo County – on the border.  They represent the best in mission volunteers, and have figured out how to do meaningful and valuable long-term volunteer mission work.  I want to write about and highlight each of their projects in another blog, after I round up more photos.  For now, I just want to acknowledge Debbi and her outstanding and committed group of mission volunteers!    THANK YOU ALL!!

Debbi Mashaw 2018

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Literature

Aracely Salazar, my ministry partner-in-crime!  Aracely and I often talk about different ways we can address poverty in the Valley, and how we can spread the Gospel message of love and hope to those who suffer.

Recently, I fell into a large donation of newly published children’s teaching material, all wonderful resources.  Meanwhile, Aracely helps the children in her own church, Calvario Iglesia Bautista in Weslaco, to learn about God and the Bible.  So we worked together to share the resources with the children of Calvario. It was a hit!

Thanks to the publisher of the “Shine” Bible teaching materials!

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Classrooms

The Rio Grande Valley Literacy Center now holds ESL classes at 16 different sites throughout Hidalgo County.  I’m showing a photo of just one of the new Fall 2018 classes. This particular class is hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association in Weslaco, Texas.

We are always encouraged by the local schools, churches, organizations, businesses, and companies that partner with us in this community endeavor.  It’s all donated space and time, and we’re grateful.  THANK YOU!

ESL 2018

ESL Teachers

This morning we at the Rio Grande Valley Literacy Center welcomed our newest ESL teacher, Dr. Magdalena (Maggie) Jones of Mercedes.  She will begin teaching ESL classes at one of our 16 class sites, hosted by the Leadership Empowerment Group of Mercedes, TX.  Thank you Maggie for stepping up!

Also a word of thanks to all of the organizations who host (for free!) ESL and GED classes in the Valley.  This partnership helps to keep the costs very low for the students, and for the Literacy Center as well.

ESL and GED classes begin this coming Tuesday, September 4 for the fall semester.  Much work goes into providing low-cost adult education, and my prayer is for those who are enrolled to realize their potential, and know that they can do something about their own illiteracy and poverty.  They are valuable and much loved by the staff of the Rio Grande Valley Literacy Center.  I’m grateful to be a part of this ministry.

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(from left) RGVLC Advisor Diann Berry, Dr. Maggie Jones (in white), RGVLC Director Diana Farias, Dr. Barbara Hinojosa of Leadership Empowerment Group.  

The Color of Fear

Yesterday, July 26, I attended an afternoon seminar titled “The Color of Fear”.  It was led by my friend, Chaplain Dr. Steven F Smith, and held at Valley Baptist Hospital in Harlingen (a sister border town).

Going in, I knew that the topic was going to be about racism, but I didn’t know that it was going to cover so much material in such a short amount of time.  The session lasted 3 hours, including a break in the middle.  The presentation was very thought-provoking, included self-questions, and ended with group compassion.  All that in 3 hours.  It was a great seminar.

If you ever feel the need to approach racism within a group/class setting, and want to see positive results before the session is over, I recommend you consider this seminar.  Steven would like to make this seminar available to others, and will gladly talk to anyone who may be interested.  He can be contacted at:  Dr. Steven F. Smith, steven.smith@valleybaptist.net, (work) 956-389-6753.

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“Color of Fear” class 2018 with Dr. Smith (purple)

Bookmarks

Many times, mission teams come to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas to minister in some way.  Recently, however, I had a volunteer group minister to the Valley from home.

A while back, I received a phone call from Sarah Hatch of the First Baptist Church of Brownwood, Texas.  Sarah is the Children’s Minister there, and was asking about ways to help with literacy ministry from afar.  She also wanted to teach her local children about my particular mission on the border during the upcoming summer Vacation Bible School.  So we came up with a very practical way for the children to learn AND to actually participate in the ministry without leaving town.

RESULT:   Below is a very colorful photo of  the beautiful bookmarks that the VBS children made themselves, and then had shipped to the RGV.  I will be handing these out to children who attend one of the local Books for the Border and Beyond book fairs hosted by churches or schools here in the RGV.

Thank you to Sarah Hatch, VBS children, and to FBC Brownwood for figuring out how to  engage in ministry from home!  May God continue to increase your knowledge of ways to share Christ’s love with others.

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Ministry Volunteers

Here on the border of Texas, there are many ways for individuals to volunteer their time and effort, or to bring whole groups to participate in a variety of mission endeavors.

My main need for volunteers is in the area of teaching ESL, or English Second Language.  If you have some ESL teaching experience, then you can volunteer for a semester or more.  I will provide the curriculum and the assignment, which will be in partnership with the Rio Grande Valley Literacy Center, a faith-based non-profit with classes throughout Hidalgo County.  No Spanish required.

Or, if you are especially knowledgeable about a certain academic subject matter, say MATH or ENGLISH, then you are also invited to come teach a GED class for a semester.  We offer prep classes for all of the high school equivalency exams, but we do require the the teacher have a college degree in the subject matter.  For these two volunteer opportunities, I will work directly with the volunteer on housing and other personal options.  Email me at diannberrytx@gmail.com for more information.

(Volunteer teacher from Dallas with ESL class shown below)

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The third way you can volunteer is in the field of construction.  Occasionally I come across a need, such as the painting project shown below, and can refer you to light construction requests.  Mostly however, construction opportunities along the border go through CBF of Texas, the state-level organization of CBF.  The contact for CBF Texas border construction projects is Jorge Zapata at 956-873-1537.

(Church volunteers from Louisiana painting an ESL classroom )

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