Boots and Bling

BNB 2019

The main fundraiser for the Rio Grande Valley Literacy Center is an event called Boots and Bling.  It has been held annually now for eight years, and continues to draw attention to the financial needs of the Literacy Center, and to the success of it’s adult students.

This year, on May 2, the evening event was held in Edinburg for the first time, and I must say that it is my favorite venue so far.  The celebration included testimonials from adult students, and a word from Judge Gonzales of Hidalgo County Court.  He told of growing up in the migrant fields, and turning to education at the age of 17.

Boots and Bling is worth mentioning, because it raises around 20% of the annual budget of the Literacy Center.  If you should ever want to attend this very worth annual event, just let me know!

Photos:  (1-above) Program for the evening   (2-below) Literacy Center Director Diana Farias with Diann

Boots Bling 2019


What’s For Lunch?

Yesterday, I hosted an information booth at the South Texas Literacy Symposium in Edinburg, TX.  This event is held annually, and is sponsored by Literacy Texas and South Texas Literacy Coalition.  I was happy to promote the “What’s For Lunch?” program, developed by a long-time ministry partner of mine – Literacy ConneXus.

Across the state of Texas, and including the Rio Grande Valley area, there are summer lunch programs being offered to children who come from impoverished families.  Dr. Lester Meriwether of Literacy ConneXus had the idea to develop a summer reading program to coincide with the feeding programs.  It’s a simple library-in-a-box (shown below) which can be used to introduce children to new books over the summer.

The reason?  Studies show that children generally lose ground in their reading skills over the summer vacation months, unless they keep practicing throughout the summer.  This is a simple way for children who may not have easy access to a library to keep reading.

Congratulations to Literacy ConneXus for developing and implementing this summer reading program.  I’m very happy to promote it!


Family Literacy

First Baptist Church of Raymondville, Tx hosted a second annual children’s Book Fair this morning for the local Kindergarteners.  This church has decided that this meaningful outreach is something they want to do each year for the families of Raymondville.

Parents were included this year in the selection of free books offered to the children.  A shopping spree, of sorts.  Hundreds of books were donated to this cause, thanks to the decades-long development of the Books for the Border and Beyond program through Literacy ConneXus.  These books come from churches and individuals from all over the state of Texas, with a few coming from Louisiana as well.  God has blessed this ministry, and I am thankful and excited to see the end result.

Below is a photo of the free bookcases, again made by individuals across the state.  Each Kindergarten child received a free home bookcase, to decorate and fill with books.  Needless to say, this was a Saturday morning well spent!



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!