Coloring the RGV

Aug 28, 2023 | From Our Founder

Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory. But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5 (CEB)

As I entered the center of Carlota Pretine in Brownsville, Texas, the beauty of the place took me by surprise. The dilapidated exterior did not do justice to the historical beauty found inside. I was home among my people, listening to young people talking in Spanish, English, and Spanglish. There was laughter, palpable joy, and community — a community in an impoverished place, taking pride in necessary endurance.

Rev. Mike Wright Chapman and Rev. Nan Baker both of whom are part of New Church in Dallas and also founding members of Color Splash Out and I traveled to the Rio Grande Valley to meet Rev. Ali Lopez-Valcárcel of the United Church of Christ of the Rio Grande Valley, and members of Casa Orgullo for a three-day camp adventure. The three organizations collaborated in making this event a transformative reality for the young people of the valley.

Color Splash Out brought our programing to a community that was already in place. As we unloaded cones, balls, flags, craft supplies, and much more, we also unpacked grace, known through the love of the Holy-One as we answer our calling.

Today we boast in the hope of God’s glory, inspiring young people to thrive and connecting them to a network of support that empowers each to be their authentic self. We return to our weekday ministries, exhausted but enlivened and transformed by these young people’s stories. For example, there is the young person who crossed the border all alone to find a better place. We were in awe of the young man who taped the bottom of his disintegrating shoes in order to walk thirty minutes early each morning to catch a bus that would bring him to the center to join us. We met a young trans man who whose activism and leadership has brought good trouble on behalf of others in Frisco, Texas many miles away from the border despite his very young age. Each person’s life brings more stories, adventures to share, and narratives that cry out to be written. In each encounter, the spirit keeps reminding me: hope does not disappoint!

As we leave the valley, all powdered up with the bright colors from our traditional epic closing game, we are exhausted from a non-stop energy-and-emotion-roller coaster. Yet, we cannot stop grinning with pride and joy because of the experience! Three small communities came together to create big changes for individuals and for the world.

We are thankful for Hilda the owner of Carlotta Pretine for taking the chance in queering the space so close to the border, surrounded by Christian nationalists. We thank the Holy-One-of-those-in-the-margins that Rev. Ali Lopez-Valcárcel and the United Church of Christ will shine divine light amid the shadows that attempt to drown out the beautiful work being done by queer people and their allies.

“Color Splash Out—Backpack Edition #1” is in the history books, powered by intersectionality, creativity, love, passion, and support of those who KNOW that Hope does not disappoint. We will continue to answer our calling by bringing this camp adventure to little communities through the nation, one city at a time. As we make plans for our 2024 summer camp weeklong adventure, we know that our work supporting the community in the south has just begun.

Rev. Yadi Martínez-Reyna

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The Rev. Yadi Martínez-Reyna  (M.Div.) is bilingual Latinx gender non-binary artist, a borderlander, and founder of Color Splash Out™, a non profit organization dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for LGBTQ+ Youth and their ally friends. Yadi was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley in the frontera of Brownsville and Matamoros Mexico. Yadi is certified as as Spiritual Director through the Art of Spiritual Direction at Still Point, NM and member of Spiritual Directors International (SDI).

Rev. Yadi serves as a Pastor at First UCC in 2nd Life, UCC.  They have a Masters in Divinity (M.Div.) and a Latino/a studies certification from Brite Divinity School located at TCU in Ft. Worth, Texas. Yadi holds an Associate Degree in Graphic Design and Multi-Media.

Yadi serves as an LGBTQIA Facilitator with twenty years of experience working with young people in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metropolitan area. Their work includes using arts and networking skills to create community events, retreats, leadership conferences, safe space training, and creating empowering trips for young people.