These are observations from Arlen Williams on his experiences while visiting and working with True Path Ministy in Galeana, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
Crossing the Border: After traveling from the Texas Hill Country to McAllen, Texas leaving my vehicle, and meeting with Stephen and Tonyia Williams and then exchanging dollars for Pecos, the next task is crossing the International Bridge. You first go through a security check point and depending on red light (pulled over and checked) or green light (pass through) you proceed to building with passport in hand. It is required to obtain a permit for whatever time you intend to stay (fill out papers and pay if staying longer than 7 days).
First one third of the trip is through a desert type climate, second part is through citrus orchards lining both sides of the road. We passed through several small villages and there are stores and accommodations along the way. (Steve and Tonya know the best places to stop).
Along the way you will probably see Federal vehicles with armed soldiers patrolling the country side. This is different but is actually a feeling of security. “I never did feel threatened in anyway.”
Eventually if the weather is clear the mountains come into view and the last third is both breathtaking and somewhat concerning. The roads are good but a lot of switchbacks and sharp curves and an occasional large truck.
Destination: Galeana, Mexico (County Seat) is a bustling city and is the largest in the immediate area. There is not any large manufacturing so most people are self-employed and do whatever is necessary to support themselves and their families. There are many shops and street vendors and you may have to make a few stops to find what you desire. The city is compact and streets seem very narrow to me and there is a lot of foot traffic. The city has a beautiful town square and it is usually crowded.
Galeana, Mexico, a city of approximately forty thousand, is located in a valley surrounded by very large and beautiful mountains. This is the home base for True Path Ministries. Stephen and Tonyia Williams have answered a calling and sold their home and moved here and with the help of local Churches and Christians and donations from the U.S. Churches and large amounts of their personal income, started ministering to numerous Christian Churches and remote villages in the state of Nuevo Leon.
There is a division here between Catholic and Christians with the majority being Catholic. (True Path Ministry serves Christians or anyone in need and desiring to learn about Jesus).
I do not know much Spanish, but when the people we met found out I was Stephen’s brother and a Christian, they were very welcoming and accepted me with open arms. I learned they have a special greeting if you are Christian.
I attended several Church services and even though I could not understand, I could feel the spirit and joy of the people. The music is especially awesome.
Speaking of the people that I met, you will never find a more joyous, happy, spirit-filled group, no matter the circumstance. Being from the U.S. it made me realize how fortunate we are with all the food and necessities so easily obtained. It proves to me the need for family and fellow Christians and that material possessions are not required for happiness.
It is a very different world and way of living, time and deadlines do not matter much and when we started to do a project we were almost always presented a different path than first intended. We can always finish our intended project tomorrow.
Some of the projects that I was privileged to be involved in were, digging foundation footings and haul concrete blocks for a new church being built. Installing electrical wiring, outlets and switches at different churches and dwellings. Help prepare and deliver meals to the needy. Prepare project bags for children ministries. Purchase and prepare food and necessities for remote village visits. Sort and distribute donated clothing and goods. Deliver a donated wheelchair, requested by a pastor, for an elderly couple probably in their 80’s (gentleman had no legs and wife had a broken arm). Many of these projects are reoccurring and require a lot of planning and time.
The people are truly appreciative of whatever is done and you can see it in their eyes and feel it in their handshakes and hugs. I feel that they are somewhat surprised that American Christians are interested in their plight.
I was a typical American hearing all the news about Mexico’s bad side and I had at one time stated “I would never go over there” but Stephen needed help and asked if I would come. Being retired, I said why not, this has been a life changing experience and opened my eyes to Jesus at work everywhere. There is a need and the needs are many and overwhelming at times.