Jacquie Hinchey takes an 18-wheeler packed with food, clothes and other everyday American necessities.
She's not making the 1,200-mile trip for fun. She going to do the right thing, she says, by lending a helping hand to those who could use it.
For the past five years she's been going to Mexico to do whatever needs to be done, which includes ministering, distributing food and other items and doing construction work.
"I've been working with the assistant mayor of Nuevo Progresso named Mr. Dimas and I've gotten favor with him," she said. "He found the most needy family there. The mom, Rena, is 42-years-old and the father, Francisco, is about 45 and they have 13 children ranging in age from two weeks to 22 years. They were living in a house on this lot and it was bad. Three weeks ago I took a team of 14 from the First Baptist Church in Dexter down and we built the family a 12 by 16-foot house which is a shed for most of us but that's all the room they're given there. We also went down to put a roof on a school."
But last Monday disaster struck. A fireworks factory containing 5,500 pounds of gunpowder exploded, turning the brick building into single missiles that hit people and homes, eight of which were completely blown off their foundations.
"We're talking about a community that has nothing, no beds, no electricity, no water and now they have no homes," Hinchey noted.
Francisco had gone to work and was standing outside the building with his 8-year old son when the explosion occurred, injuring them both. The father was air evacuated to a burn hospital in San Antonio, Texas, where he is being treated for a broken elbow, broken knee and severe puncture wounds from the bricks. The child suffered a broken nose, head injuries and a broken arm.
"Francisco is in intensive care, yet he told Mr. Dimas, 'we've got to go, we've got to get out of here,'" recalled Hinchey. "He said, 'I have to go back to Harlingen (Texas) and get some medicine to take back to those people who got hurt in the fire.' He'll be there in the hospital for awhile and he's worried about somebody else. That's just how they are."
At receiving the news, Hinchey knew what she had to do. She and a team of six are leaving Oct. 28 for Nuevo Progresso to help rebuild and take needed supplies. And they'll be taking a little southern hospitality with them.
Thursday and Friday were spent loading a semi-truck with everything from clothes to food to dentist chairs to wheelchairs which were donated from people throughout the Missouri Bootheel. The truck, donated by Jerry Pullen, left for Mexico Friday night.
"Jerry Pullen has been so gracious," Hinchey said. "On the last trip he let me borrow his four-wheel drive pick-up truck. This time he's sending his tractor trailer down and one of his drivers and it's not costing us a dime. He's also filled the truck up with at least 1,000 pounds of rice and beans.
"Christ to the World Ministries our of Morley has let me borrow their trailer to go around and pick up stuff. Gilster-Mary Lee of Perryville has donated cereal this trip and last trip. Eakins Plaza here in Sikeston let this tractor trailer come onto their parking lot and Judy's Buy Rite consignment store loaded it to the max. Squiggles and Giggles children's consignment store gave me all kinds of out of season things that won't matter down there. Hats, Homes and More has donated things as well. The people from Dexter Pizza Company have been a blessing and although we didn't have to contact them this time, Martin Rice Company out of Bernie has been so generous. Last time they gave us 2,400 pounds of rice. One lady in Dexter bought like 340 boxes of Crayons. I could go on and on and on, you just can't imagine the people who want to help."
It's a humbling experience, says Hinchey, both to see the kindness people continue to show and to work with individuals in another country who have nothing. She says her reason for starting the mission work was a calling she heard loud and clear.
"I started going to Mexico in 1996, on a short-term mission trip with Christ To the World Ministries. We went about 200-250 miles into Mexico and for the whole week we distributed clothes and food and ministered to the people. I just have a heart for the underdog, a love for the unlovable."
When she's not in Mexico, she's visiting churches where she ministers in song and shares the vision she says God has given her. She also counsels married couples and individuals with drug problems through her church.
When she's not doing that she's preparing to return to Mexico by collecting supplies and talking to church members about going on the mission trip.
Lately she says she has been going back at least once a month.
"You just can't imagine what they live on," she said with concern. "They have no kind of health care and we have ministered to people whose children survive on hot chili peppers and tortillas," she said.
Doing her Walking in Victory mission work under the umbrella of A.R.K. of Hope in Dexter, she takes teams from all churches to Mexico. "It's not a denominational thing, it's a God thing," she stresses. "I just want to be the vessel that God uses, whatever you give me will go to the people and used in the ministry. I know we have people right here who need help and if that was the vision God called me to I would do it with all my heart. I love networking, meeting people's needs and supplying what I can. I do that in the states as well as in Mexico but most of my time is spent in Mexico."
A few of Hinchey's current needs are a storage unit in which to store donated items, a four-door, four-wheel drive truck in which to transport people and items to Mexico and while there and a 14 to 16-foot trailer to use to transport donated items.
To make a donation or for more information Hinchey can be reached at 624-5199 or contact the A.R.K. of Hope at 624-6151.
"The Lord just apprehended my heart," she said. "To touch people's lives, you leave a part of you with them and I left a big part of me when I left Mexico in 1996. The desire to go back never left me."