Some months ago a church in Albuquerque decided to replace their pews, and they donated the old ones to us for our Food Bank in Juarez, Mexico. That was great news but there were some major obstacles to overcome. How would we transport the pews to El Paso and then get them across the border? Crossing anything into Mexico is not easy, but a load this size? I’ll let Nestor Baca, who spearheaded this project, tell the rest of this wonderful story:
“The reason I want to share this is that sometimes we forget that God is still in the business of doing miracles. We started praying, especially to Fr. Rick Thomas, to make the way to bring these pews down to El Paso and Juarez. We asked him to open the gates to cross the border so we could deliver the pews to the Food Bank. My brother came through with a trailer that was 30 feet long, so we loaded all the pews on the trailer and off we went.
“When we got to the border customs station, we drove into the area where they check the trucks. After waiting a few hours, the customs official started walking around all the vehicles to see what people were trying to cross into Juarez. I went up and introduced myself, told her who I was and that these pews were donated for the poor. She said, ‘Let me take care of these people first, and then I’ll come back to you.’ After a while she returned and complained, ‘Why did you bring so many pews? If you had only brought five I would have been able to help you, but you have so many.’ I told her, ‘Do what you can. I know we are going to have to pay something.’ A little while later she came back and said, ‘It’s going to be $1000.’ Yikes! ‘Can you give us a break?’ She took out a piece of paper and wrote, “$800.” She told me, ‘Take it inside and they will give you a form there, and take that form to the bank. Pay the bank and bring the receipt back, and we will give you a release.’
“As we walked over to the bank to pay, my brother and I were both emptying our pockets, trying to figure out how we were going to come up with $800. He told me, ‘I have a credit card – maybe they will let us charge it.’ We went to the bank and gave the cashier the form. She asked, ‘How are you going to pay?’ I thought to myself, ‘I don’t know!’ but told her, ‘We have some American money and some pesos.’ She typed some figures into her computer and looked up, ‘This will be 1,942 pesos.’ [The exchange rate is about 15 pesos to the dollar]. I looked at my brother and he looked at me, and I didn’t know what to say. Quickly I reached into my pocket and handed her $200 U.S. dollars. She gave me a bunch of bills back with our receipt. I didn’t bother counting the change. Heading back to the customs office, my brother and I looked at each other in bewilderment, wondering what had just happened. We handed in the paid receipt form, and they released us with permission to cross. We got out of there only having paid $130!
“While all this was going on, the people at the Food Bank were praying that we would get through okay. Shouts of joy broke out as we drove the trailer up to the Food Bank chapel carrying the beautiful pews. Father Thomas came through again!”