The Rio Grande River begins in south central Colorado and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. The river forms the 1200-mile border between Texas and Mexico. The complex intertwining of Latin and Anglo cultures is evident in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. While separated by the river from their sister cities in Mexico, the towns in the Valley reflect a hybrid of two nations, two cultures, and two socio-economic systems.
A Wonder Voyage to the Rio Grande Valley gives you the experience of an international journey while remaining in the U.S. Opportunities abound for both meaningful service and multi-cultural education. If the focus of your journey is to love your neighbor, a Wonder Voyage to the Rio Grande Valley is just the ticket.
- Worship with sisters and brothers at a Spanish speaking church.
- Spend time in prayer at an ancient Spanish Mission.
- Watch dolphins on an eco-cruise in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Splash in the waves at one of Texas’ most beautiful beaches.
- Help refurbish a home in one of the Colonias along the river.
- Serve a local center that helps refugees in the resettlement process.
Every Wonder Voyage itinerary (mission trip and/or pilgrimage) is personalized to the desires, direction and personality of each group. This itinerary is only a description of the kind of journey we can create for your unique team.
- Day 1 –Whose Your Neighbor
Welcome to the Rio Grande Valley! The region is a center for cross-border commerce with the country of Mexico, our neighbor to the south. Life along the border is truly a different world. The culture is a hybrid between the two countries, with elements of Latin and Anglo cultures deeply intertwined. As our week in the Valley begins, we settle into our lodging in the town of Mission, and we begin to consider what it means to be a neighbor. Is it merely proximity? Is it attitude? Is it both? Is it more?
- Day 2 – In My Neighbor’s Shoes
“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Social and economic conditions in Mexico and Central America have led to a constant migration toward the US over the last decade. The challenges along the way are many, and upon reaching the border, people find that the struggles are not over. We will spend our day on a quest for empathy as we explore the colonias near the infamous Border Wall along the Rio Grande River.
- Day 3 – Serving My Neighbor
Over the last 75 years, nearly 2500 colonias have developed along the 1248 miles of Texas’s border with Mexico. The state defines the colonias as residential communities along the Border that lack necessities like power, running water, and paved roads. The colonias in Texas tend to be the most poverty-stricken areas in the state. We seek to serve today alongside members of a local colonia as they strive to improve their community. Throughout the day we will hear stories of those who both live and serve in the area in our quest for deeper understanding.
- Day 4 – Compassion for My Neighbor
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” Emboldened by the words of John Bunyan, we strive to approach our neighbors with compassion. We spend our day serving at a center which is the first point of contact for refugees when they are released from detention centers; the HRC provides care with compassion and resources to begin the lengthy resettlement process.
- Day 5– Connecting with My Neighbor
We often judge others without ever knowing them. So, our final day of service in the Rio Grande Valley is designed as a day to connect through understanding and fun. With an opportunity to learn about the legal side of immigration as well as an afternoon dedicated to entertaining children in the colonia, we have chances to prove the truth of this quote from Tennessee Williams: “I think that hate is a feeling that can only exist where there is no understanding.”
- Day 6 – Joyful Neighbors
After a week full of hard work and deep thought, we head east to the Gulf Coast and the town of South Padre Island. A day of surf, sand, and sun is the perfect way to bring our time in the Rio Grande Valley to a joyful close. After relaxing on the beach, we celebrate and reflect upon the week we have spent engaging our neighbors.
- Day 7 – Don’t Be a Stranger
Today we bid a fond farewell to our neighbors along the border and in the Rio Grande Valley. We leave different neighbors than when we arrived. May the love and compassion we shared continue to infuse our lives wherever we are and may remember that a stranger is just a friend we haven’t met yet.
Legacy in Rio Grande Valley, Texas
- *This is the base cost of the trip. Your cost may differ depending on housing, activities, etc.