If you follow us on social media, or get our intercessory texts when crossing the border each time, you are already informed as to what has been going on these past few weeks. Thank you for praying. If you are just now becoming informed, we could use your added concert of prayers.
To give you some background, we have to declare our loads with Mexican Customs (Aduanas), when crossing into Mexico. We have paperwork given to us by one of the orphanages we serve, that gives us the special permission to bring donated food. On that paperwork, is a description of what we are carrying in our truck load. Up until recently, that was just a general idea of what the load consisted of (i.e. bags of bread, boxes of pastries or cooked food, etc.)
Every so often the Aduana Administrator changes, where the old one moves on to another port, and a new one comes. We have always had challenging transitions with these changes, as our favor and rapport must be rebuilt each time. Often, some of the agents are still around between transitions, which helps. Right now, the latest change brought a very difficult new administrator. He is all about the money, and not really interested in those bringing in donations, without expecting to pay for it. For years now, we’ve paid anywhere from $7-$15 for a truck load of food, each time we cross. Normally, for things other than donations, fees are calculated at 16% of the value of what one is transporting across the border.
Just over 3 weeks ago, we packed and loaded my partners truck like every other day, as we prepared to cross the border with a large load of food. On this particular night we had food supplements which had been donated at the last minute, and did not make it on our paperwork. Ordinarily, this would not be a real problem, and especially not with the favor we have had from crossing for so many years (I/Wayne for nearly 9 years,–Greg almost 20). But upon arrival to customs, this new boss was walking around, and he ordered the agent checking our truck, to scrutinize what we had declared, compared to what was on the truck. And because the supplements were not listed, he seized our load, and impounded my partners truck. Our paperwork clearance was temporarily suspended. And it has been a downhill battle ever since.
The next time we attempted to cross, after learning that our paperwork was cleared again, we were informed that the Aduana’s office had stopped ALL donations from coming in until further notice. They decided to reorganize how they allow donations to be brought in. Gabriel and I were left with 2 loaded trucks that night. We knew as soon as we were returned to the US, that we needed to get that food into Mexico, as it was going to be a long time, before we would have an opportunity to get another load in. We drove both trucks one hour east, to another border crossing in Tecate. This port is usually a bit more laid back, although very difficult to get to, with winding roads and mountain climbs. But it is easier to cross things through. We were allowed to cross, but for a very hefty price. We were charged 16% of the perceived value of the food. (as I mentioned earlier) This handed us a $284.00 fee for 2 trucks. As soon as the agent told me how much it would cost, I was reminded of a special offering from a group of supporters who pray for us regularly and collect an offering. The note with the check said, “our folks dug deep this month to help with the recent border problems”. I knew that offering was for this moment. We were grateful to get that load in. It has been the last one up to now. We would not be able to pay that much, as often as we normally cross.
Meanwhile we still have food to collect 7 days a week, and we don’t want to lose those connections. So we have actively discovered places throughout San Diego, where we can deliver the food. This hasn’t been that easy, as these other places are not equipped for the masses of food we collect. Remember we recently told you that we move 20,000 pounds of food a week. Our hearts grieve for those no longer receiving the food.
The latest is this: We still wait for the ban to be lifted. We are still waiting to get Greg’s truck back. He was also charged with several fines. That, plus the truck impound fee will tower into the thousands of dollars. Greg has been consulting with a lawyer in Mexico, as well as getting the help of individuals who work in politics, and other philanthropic endeavors, who believe in what we do. We have a press conference scheduled and the possibility of a march with hundreds of people making their opinions known about this injustice. The people of Tijuana are tired of being oppressed by their government. It is as difficult for them as it is for us, to understand why people would be prevented from helping those in need! Thank you for praying!!
Love Wayne & Carol