Every year we visit our friends Felipe & Sonya in Tepito. This year is the church’s 10 year anniversary. They have renamed the church “Solo por Gracias” which means For Grace Alone.
Tepito is very busy with open air markets. And there are homeless people all over the place – men sleeping on street corners, benches, where ever. And it is dirty. There is one corner that, honestly, has had a mountain of trash at it every time we go to Tepito.
Felipe & Sonya minister to the people of Tepito despite all of the odds. And our group has been helping them for a long time doing all sorts of things. One year, when Felipe was told they no longer had the building they were in, our group literally moved the rubble from an empty lot next door so that a new church could be built there. That is where their current building is. The first year I visited, there were walls in the new church and some lights. But the walls were just bare concrete block and the floor was bare concrete. Over the years, they continue to improve the building – but it is nothing like our building at Re3. They’ve painted the walls and put tile on the floor. But the ceiling is corrugated tin. Their bathrooms are literally stalls off the main room.
And their kitchen, that they run a soup kitchen out of, is about one quarter the size of the one at Re3. They have cabinets, but the upper cabinets were sitting on the counter top, so there was no work space. They had no running water. Their stove is run off of a propane tank – what we would call a really nice camp stove.
This year, part of our group put the cabinets on the wall and got the sink in working order. Believe me when I say it would never meet building code in Forsyth County. And I think it is safe to say that not one woman in Project:Re3 would give her kitchen up for the kitchen that Sonya uses – even with the improvements our folks made. But – if you could have seen the gratefulness in Sonya’s face. To have a sink in her kitchen that works – never mind it only has cold water. To have kitchen cabinets on the wall so that she could use the counter top. Her face just shone.
And maybe that is why I love going to Tepito. It is not Tepito itself, but this bright light that shines through Felipe & Sonya. The contrast between the dark and the light is so apparent at Tepito is makes me crave more. I want that for myself and those around me. I want to be thankful like they are thankful.
We complain if our cabinets are the wrong color.
Or we covet the kitchen with the granite countertops.
We wonder how they did it in the old days with out a microwave.
And yet this woman was thrilled with old used cabinets and countertop from the 60’s maybe?!
I want to be thankful.
For running water.
For the miracle of HOT running water.
For a refrigerator. For a stove and an oven.
For a church with clean white walls.
And clean streets.