By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
Two Copperas Cove churches are building more than a relationship to take on a summer mission trip at a colonia in south Texas.
Fairview Community Church and Eastside Baptist Church have spent several months preparing and collecting numerous items to head down to a colonia near Edinburg for a weeklong vacation Bible school and food and item give-away.
"Since we are going to be there for five days for VBS, why not have a block party for five nights, and since we are going to be there for five nights we have a hoot-en-nay," Fairview Community Church Pastor Paul Wrightsman said about the trip
The group will also be playing music and relaxing with the locals during the day.
A colonia is a large tract of non-farmable land where a developer provides roads and water lines, Wrightsman said. That developer then divides it into about half-acre lots so the people who purchase them can have septic tanks.
The individual, typically a low wage laborer, then purchases the property on a payment process and slowly starts to build a home, Wrightsman said. If they miss one payment, the land goes back to the developer.
"You look out and see this land that is acre and acre of patched roads," Wrightsman said about his pulling into the colonia for the first. "As an observer you go through mixed emotions."
At first one maybe upset, but then you realize these are people who are tying to get ahead, trying to work their way out of poverty, and trying to own something, Wrightsman said.
"The need out there got on his heart and he wanted to help," said Eastside Baptist Church Pastor Wayne Sage about Wrightsman.
"It is people in need but it also is people that are trying to dig themselves out," Wrightsman said. "These are people who are working and are endeavoring to pull themselves up by the their boot straps."
Fairview first visited the colonia around Christmas for two days. That first mission was bringing food - 20 pounds or rice and 20 pounds of beans and 4 to 5 quarts of cooking oil.
"They can use everything from food to clothing to building materials," Wrightsman said.
"We ended up taking about 3½ tons of food and clothing, and in addition, we got a lot of donations of Christmas gifts."
Eastside Baptist Church helped with collecting some of the items for the first trip, but it decided it wanted to do more this time around, Sage said.
"These people are trying and that is the people I like to help," Sage said.
Eastside Baptist Church recently had a huge effort to help construct a well in Asia. It did so by collecting items for a garage sale and then using $1,000 of the profits to send for the well.
The church, however, had roughly about $2,000 left and several items remaining from the garage sale, Sage said.
So it decided it would contribute them with the colonia cause and join the Fairview on the five day mission.
"We will be taking a tremendous amount," Sage said.
"They are the lead church and we just jumped into in to give them hand and help them out," he said.
When Fairview heard about Eastside's commitment to the mission, the congregation became even more involved, Wrightsman said.
"We are not going to lessen our involvements because of their involvement, we are going to expand the whole project," Wrightsman said.
The churches will leave on July 3 to conduct the mission will start on July 4 and last for five days.
Sage and Wrightsman both hope that this mission doesn't only help the people but also encourages them to follow in Jesus's footsteps.
"(Jesus) used his miracles and food to encourage and we hope we can do that," Wrightsman said.
"I am 74 years old, and this is the most hands on I been in missions ... This is really tremendous to see."
Contact Mason W. Canales at email@example.com or (254) 501-7474. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcoveeditor.