Seeing Saltillo's Sadness - My Family Travels

A little over a year ago I had the amazing opportunity to go on a mission trip to Saltillo, Mexico with a large group from the Biloxi Catholic Diocese. I had heard quite a lot about the mission trips from previous years and had high expectations of what I thought would be a fun and carefree trip. I knew that it would be an experience that would stick with me, but I was unaware of exactly how much it would open my eyes to what others have to live with from day to day.

From Biloxi, Mississippi, to Saltillo, Mexico, it was about an eighteen hour bus ride. All of the items we packed for the needy people of Saltillo had to be disguised as if they were our own belongings in our personal suitcases. We were aware that political officials of Mexico did not appreciate our aid to those in need.

Once we were settled in at San Miguel (the local missionary in Saltillo), we had a lot of work to do. The numerous items of necessity that we brought had to be organized so that we could easily pack for the days to come. We also had to take big responsibility in cleaning up after ourselves and making sure that we did not let the people down that we had gone to serve.

Most of our week was used traveling to ranchos (villages of the poor who share all that they have with one another) that were sometimes near and sometimes far. We brought them items that they needed most like clothes, medicine, and personal hygiene products. For the children we brought toys that would be looked down upon by most spoiled American children. Everything we gave to them, they greatly appreciated and we could tell by the look of relief on their faces.

Some other places we were able to visit include Perpetual Socorro House of Immigration, an orphanage, and a few barrios (tightly packed neighborhoods of extremely small stucco houses).

At the house of immigration our group was able to talk with immigrants that came from far and wide about why they were there and what they planned to do next. Most of them had a similar goal of either reaching family elsewhere or crossing the border into the United States in order to make money to send to their families back home. They were desperate and hoped for a better future for their children.

The orphanage was a very emotional place to be. At first when the children saw us they did not trust us, we were foreign to them. As they began to trust and play with us we were able to give them hope that there are people out in the world that care about them. Departing from that playground that day we disappointed them, we showed them what they could have then took it away after only a few hours of play. 

While in the barrios we delivered bags of items to houses to meet the specific needs of each family. The families graciously opened their homes to us and showed us their most prized possessions with great pride. We said prayers with the families and blessed their houses before leaving.

The events that place while I was in Saltillo, Mexico, will always remind me of how much I have to be grateful for in my life and that faith is a solid foundation for the hardest of times.


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