By John Huân Vũ,
Tijuana Ministry Volunteer
“The wounds left behind the wildfires are indescribable,” said Deacon Bob Malone of the Diocese of San Jose, speaking of the 250 forest fires throughout Northern California that claimed 43 lives, burned 245,000 acres, and forced 100,000 to evacuate in October 2017. “As a people of faith, we felt called to do something more to help in addition to prayer.” That is when he mobilized the leaders of the Tijuana Ministry through BASICS, Brothers and Sisters in Community Service, to put their carpentry and ministry skills into practice.
On April 29, 25 volunteers gathered at Saint Simon Parish in Los Altos to build storage sheds for the purpose of storing tools and equipment for families who lost their home in the wildfires. This afternoon was part of a construction pre-build event where volunteers learn basic carpentry and safety training before traveling to Tijuana, Mexico on the annual immersion trip.
Volunteers also had an opportunity to ask questions and learn additional skills such as electrical and plumbing, led by volunteers, Michael Boennighausen and Beth Matus, respectively.
Not only did the volunteers put their skills and training into practice, but they also witnessed their work benefiting those closer to home.
One of the youth volunteers was Agustin Ruiz, a Saint Francis High School student.
Ruiz said, “Due to the team’s hard work, dedication, and stewardship, we were able to build a symbol of hope. A hope that life can only improve moving forward. Similar to how Jesus is a symbol of hope to all of humanity, those who are part of the Tijuana Ministry and those who are helped are more than glad to be a symbol of hope to all.”
And through their efforts, the hope spreads beyond the Diocese. The Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos has approached the Tijuana Ministry to help build four more such sheds alongside them on August 4.
This opportunity prepared volunteers as the Tijuana Ministry travels down again for two consecutive weeks to build five homes for impoverished families in an area of northern Mexico that ranks among the poorest of North America. The first week trip will occur June 30 to July 7 and focus solely on the construction of two homes. The following week, July 7-14, will include construction, as well as outreach programs for local mothers, children, and teens.
Since its founding in 2005, the Tijuana Ministry continues to foster friendships and spiritual growth by reaching across borders to bring God’s people together. By putting faith into action, the ministry builds lasting and vibrant communities in collaboration with San Eugenio Parish in Tijuana. It provides opportunities for education, immersion, and commitment to promote human dignity both here and abroad.
The Tijuana Ministry welcomes in-kind donations from their wishlist to benefit its programs and the partners in Tijuana which it supports, including the HIV/AIDS Clinic at Albergue Las Memorias and “Semillas de Dios” School for Children with Special Needs. Please keep the Tijuana Ministry alongside the volunteers in your prayers as they prepare for this year’s immersion.
To learn more, please visit www.tijuanaministry.org.