This year we celebrate 30 years of a relationship between the people of Anapra/Poleo and Kansas City. Today I am thinking about my introduction to Anapra/Poleo. Eighteen years ago I traveled to Anapra to help with Vacation Bible School at the Tonanzin’s yellow salon.
It was the first year of VBS and although we had a curriculum and supplies, we really didn’t know what to expect. The first day we planned for 40 students and 80 students showed up. We moved everyone to a bigger space and quickly started cutting sandwiches in half so there would be enough. And it was enough because the next day more children showed up. I read that as a clear sign that we were doing the right thing, fulfilling a need.
I remember talking with Estela about our experience in Anapra and she asked “Will you come back?”. That was an easy answer for me – yes! The people in Anapra have something that I want. They don’t have material things and struggle for basic needs but they are not alone in their struggles. They have each other, a deep faith, and a lot of inner strength and peace. Being in Anapra helps me with perspective on what is really important in life – relationships.
I was a little reluctant to make the trip to Anapra in 2004 and now I look forward to visiting at least once a year. The community feels like family. Some of the children at that first VBS are now parents. Some graduated from college. Some moved out of the area and new people took their place. Some lost family members to Covid or violence or lack of medical resources or old age. My Anapra family grows when I am able to break bread with them, listen to their stories, and experience pain and joy with them.
Before leaving for Anapra in 2004, the group held a blessing and sending at St James on Troost. We all received a necklace with a wooden cross and a carved heart in the middle of the cross. We wore them as a reminder of why we were in Anapra doing God’s work, mission work. I still wear that cross after 18 years. It reminds me that the mission is not over. There is still need in Anapra. Needs have changed through the years and we do our best to listen and adapt. I always have a blessing and sending before I go to Anapra. It provides protection, guidance and peace of mind. I am always a little nervous when I cross the border into Mexico. What if I get stopped and they want a bribe or take away what I am carrying and will there be a problem with the language barrier? To my surprise, I have crossed many supplies into Mexico with no questions which tells me I am doing God’s work and God is clearing the path.
For anyone who is part of this 30 year relationship I want to let you know it is a privilege and blessing to be in this relationship no matter how large or small, no matter how long or short. I also want you to know the relationship continues and shows no signs of ending. It is richer and deeper. The door is always open to reconnect.