Tuxpan, Mexico by Patty LaRoche


2 Corinthians 8:7: But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all eagerness and in the love from us that is in you—make sure that you excel in this act of kindness too.

Three hours away, Hurricane Willa did major damage in the small town of Tuxpan. Last week, an email went out from Peter and Melinda, the Canadian couple who head the orphanage work here in Mazatlán, asking for two things: (1) volunteers, and (2) a truck large enough to pull a big trailer. Dave offered his truck, and I signed up to help.

Donations had allowed Melinda to shop for food, cleaning supplies and personal items which were loaded into the trailer along with chainsaws, wheelbarrows, etc. Our caravan left Mazatlán at sun-up, and once we arrived and parked, the men noticed a young boy and an elderly woman hanging muddy household items on broken tree limbs. With three wheelbarrows and several shovels, they set out to help. Two women from our team joined them to take pictures but immediately returned to the trailer because of the “stench and mosquitoes.” (Not sure what they expected…)

A young couple on a motorcycle stopped to help, sharing that a Red Cross shelter was a few blocks away and pointing to the one passable, residential road. Decisions were made. Food was placed in one car, and, assembly-line style, the other items were divided up into trash bags and loaded into a second van. Within two hours of us arriving, everything had been distributed, and since the shelter was completely out of food, our gift was a welcome relief, as were the mops, toilet paper, diapers, etc., for the owners of the mud-packed homes.

I then joined the men, only to learn that two of the wheelbarrows had lasted only five minutes before their wheels went flat. Five men with shovels were left with one wheelbarrow, and since the house had two-feet of mud in every room, work had been dramatically slowed. Peter was frustrated.

Before leaving Mazatlán, he had given two men explicit instructions to check the wheelbarrows, and since there was little electricity in Tuxpan, not even his air compressor could help.

Stepping into Rosario’s “kitchen,” I was Nancy Kerrigan on skates (the first time any of us had laughed since we arrived). This would be much harder than I had imagined. Grabbing a shovel, I began tackling a tucked-away area that still had three feet of mud in it, occasionally scooping up a pot or pan or lid. Resilient Rosario was thrilled to see some of her prized possessions rescued.

When it was time to leave, I walked (slid) through Rosario’s living room. Hanging a foot from her ceiling was a picture of Jesus’ mother, Mary. It was the same picture I had found on a tree limb outside, only then, her grandchildren were posed in front of it and it was caked in dried mud. We were able to give Rosario some money and saw this proud, Mexican woman’s smile turn to tears as she said, “Dios te bendiga” (“God bless you.”)

El ya tiene,” I answered.

He already has.”

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