In 1999, I received an appointment to open a new congregation on the north side of Laredo, Texas. The assignment was a "parachute drop" - salary support, some start up funds, and a few phone numbers, but little else. As resources were very limited and altar furnishings are very expensive, I personally built our cross, pulpit, and altar table. The cedar wood altar featured a Celtic braid pattern representing the Holy Trinity and the uniting of the English and Spanish speaking people under God's providence.
In October of 2003, I moved from Laredo to San Antonio. Within weeks, the Laredo new church was closed, its members involuntarily joined to other churches, and its financial assets utilized to move the McAllen District office from McAllen to Harlingen. All its other items were donated to other churches. I served five more years at Chapel Hill UMC, and five more at UM Campus Ministry in San Antonio before being appointed to San Antonio La Trinidad UMC in 2013.
A few weeks ago, La Trinidad in San Antonio completed major renovations of its basement. One of those new spaces is the chapel.
The new chapel features the beautiful pews from the 1921 Templo, but has no altar table or other adornments. I began to consider how to find an altar, and wondered what ever happened to the altar table I made for Church of the Savior in Laredo.
Last June, my in-laws, Rev. Rodolfo and Isabel Cajiri, received a new appointment to the La Trinidad UMC in Laredo, Texas. Raquel, the boys, and I traveled there a few days ago to enjoy an early Thanksgiving meal with them. After we held hands to pray over our meal, I opened my eyes and noticed a brown utility table on their patio just outside where we were seated.
Something about the table called out to me...
My eyes filled with tears as I noticed the Celtic pattern on the side of this table. At some time prior to their arrival to Laredo, the Holy Altar had been converted into a common work table and painted with the same paint used on the doors inside the house! Trying to fight back feelings of shock and grief, a still small voice spoke to me...
"Why are you sad?" it asked. "Have you not found what you were seeking? This table has been working to prepare the home for your loved ones. Now, the same hands that built this table will restore it."