A Desert Christmas Story

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Each December, families from the Fredericksburg United Methodist Church fill a box with gifts for a family in San Vicente, Mexico. The rest of the year, Mision de Candelilla provides healthcare services in villages just across the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park. This medical mission has been traveling these roads for 30 years with volunteers including medical doctors, dentists, optometrists, nurses, and a whole lot of people with no medical experience. This trip is different: it is about the joy of spreading Christmas to these forgotten people. This young girl looks confused about what is going on, but she probably has a doll in the box of gifts for her family, and her Dad has a pair of work gloves and a long sleeved shirt.

San Vicente family receives their gifts.

Family in San Vicente, Mexico

Photo: Robert C Deming

These families live on communal land called an ejido, and their primary support is raising cattle. This is the Chihuahuan Desert, with hot summers and cold winters and very little rain. The villages served by this mission are strung out along the river in an area without cell phone or internet service.  What electricity there is comes from solar panel-charged 12-volt car batteries. The only lights are a single two-foot long fluorescent tube in each house. There is a water system, but many of the bathrooms are outdoor privies. The nearest store of any kind is 150 miles away, and the first few hours of that drive are on a rough dirt road.

This is the team from Fredericksburg

Mision de Candelilla Team

Photo: Robert C Deming

These people came to share the love of the people of Fredericksburg United Methodist Church. They are all veterans of this trip and accustomed to the primitive conditions and long drive. There will be a team with a similar mission to a different village; the youth from Holy Ghost Lutheran Church, after school is out for the holidays. The home in the background belongs to Noe and Benita, two delightful people who are leaders in the village of San Vicente. The Rio Grande (Rio Brava to the Mexicans) and Big Bend National Park can be seen in the background.

Grandmothers make the trip, too.

Mision de Candelilla grandma time
Photo: Robert C Deming

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