Jonas Alvarez is the preacher of a United Methodist Church called Tenpleo San Pablo. The church is located in Piedras Negras, a small town in the state of Coahuial, Mexico.
The church heard about the tornado that hit Bartow and Gordon County on the news and on Facebook, and after the church raised enough funds through offerings and each of the 12 volunteers chipped in money to cover expenses, they made the 1,500-mile drive to help out as much as they could.
“It’s most likely we can’t do a lot of help economically but we want to be here,” Alvarez said. “We come to help.”
The church members of Tenpleo San Pablo saw the damage that was done to this area on Facebook because they have friends here due to a ministry in Adairsville called Hands and Feet Ministries.
Fifteen years ago Roy Adams visited Piedras Negras with a group from Farmville United Methodist to do missionary work.
Adams enjoyed his experience so much he decided to start his own full time ministry, so he and his wife Michelle Adams founded Hands and Feet Ministry.
Since the ministry’s founding they started a partnership with Tenpleo San Pablo 14 years ago and have taken more than 10,000 people to Mexico and 50 percent of those people have been from Northwest Georgia, according to Adams.
The Hands and Feet Ministry and Tenpleo San Pablo build orphanages, schools and churches for the areas around Piedras Negras. The ministry also partners with the Nava School and provides the only free kindergarten through six-grade education in the area.
Now 15 years later Tenpleo San Pablo has come to return the favor and helps to assist in recovery efforts in the same community, Farmville, which first helped them long ago.
“It’s really cool to see it come full circle,” Adams said.
The Tenpleo San Pablo volunteers got here on Tuesday and are staying until Sunday after church. The volunteers are split up and staying with three different families from Gordon County.
The families the volunteers are staying with are families that have been to Mexico to do mission work, and according to Adams the families have been wonderful in opening their homes.
“Even though we are here to give we have been receiving blessings, because the people have been the best and showed us so much love,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said there is an old Mexican saying, friends are like blood and blood helps hold in the blood after a cut. He said it feels good to return the favor after so many years of Hands and Feet Ministry coming down. The volunteer team is excited to do what they can to help.
Shelby Cox has lived in Piedras Negra for the past two years and works at the Nava school and said, “It’s really cool to see the table turned. They understand how we feel when we go there. They’re really understanding the blessing we get from it.”
The Piedras Negras volunteers are staying connected to their friends back home while they are here working and they are posting pictures on Facebook for everyone back home to see
Alvarez said their church family back home is really supportive and post on all of the pictures that the church is praying for the volunteers and excited to see them helping.