Going to Mexico as frequently as we do lends many celebratory occasions -- quinceneras, weddings, graduations-- but unfortunately, the more we ingrain ourselves into the lives of these amazing people, the more likely it becomes for us to also experience loss...

A few days ago, we experienced just that.

Cat (in the middle) with Duke and Wade

Catarino is one of the people on the Canal I've known the longest.  When I met him, he was badly beaten up with a broken nose.  And he was always, always drunk. 

But even so, he was always around. God drew him to the groups of missionaries and he was always eager to help us build houses for others.  We made a deal with him that if he would stay sober for a period of time, we'd build him a house.  

He couldn't do it.  And we built him one anyways.  
(Well, another group did, but we're all family down there)

Over the years, as we would arrive in Mexico, we'd see him sober more and more.  He was a totally different person when he was sober.  Always sweet, but more in control.  
But every time, as the week progressed, his "friends" would make sure he went back to his usual self.

It was heartbreaking to watch.  We really loved Cat.  And I hope that in spite of his struggle with alcoholism, he knew Christ.  I know he tried, and he knew the truth of Christ and I believe he truly desired freedom.  I know that when he was sober, he would pray -- and from what I hear, his prayers were beautiful. 

But still, Catarino has passed.  The drink got the better of him.  And he will be missed.

This loss reminds me that even though I feel so comfortable in Mexico, and even though groups of missionaries are ministering there often, there are many still in need of the saving grace of Jesus.  It's our job -- not as Americans -- but as followers of Christ  to "bring good news to the poor" ... to "comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed."

::We love you Catarino.  You won't be forgotten::