This December, the Rio Grande Valley Literacy Center watched 10 adult students pass all GED exams, and receive a High School equivalent Diploma.  We celebrate with these students in their persistence and determination in trying to achieve a higher lever of education.

Ms. Mary Daftt is the GED Coordinator at the Literacy Center, and oversees GED preparation classes in English and Spanish.  Our GED teachers are college graduates, and are dedicated to helping other adults learn.  I offer a sincere THANK YOU to these teachers.  This ministry is a blessing to many.

Photo:  Mara Sarai Galmichi celebrates her GED achievement.  

Mara Sarai Galmichi 2018


Together (again) For Hope

This November I got to host around 25 visitors to the Rio Grande Valley, and we had a meaningful and well-spent time together.  The purpose of this group is to learn from  other “practitioners” about ministry in rural settings in the U.S.  We share ideas, and see examples of ministry at work.  Each year we meet at different TFH sites, and I was truly blessed to have these people “in my home”.

Within CBF life, this group is named “TOGETHER FOR HOPE”, which has now been in existence for over 20 years.  Some of the members represent CBF, but many are from other organizations, churches, or denominations.  This organization is open to anyone who would like to attend the annual meeting.

Below:   Sam Harrell of CBF addresses the audience at the Nov ’18 Together For Hope annual meeting, held in La Feria, Texas.

TFH 2018

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



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!



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.


(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,, (work) 956-389-6753.

ColorOfFear Seminar18

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