Everyone who has been to our basecamp in Puerto Peñasco has met Pedro Tapia. And to meet Pedro is to love Pedro. In this Q&A, we talk with our Mexico country director about the experiences that have shaped him, what he loves most about his job, and even adventures on jet skis.
Pedro, tell us about your childhood.
I was born in the Cinco de Mayo barrio in Hermosillo, Mexico, which was a newish community at the time. There was no pavement, no sewage system. Over time, more people came to live there, and little by little we saw the city start to make improvements. I can remember running around the neighborhood as a small kid, sometimes barefoot. We were all struggling, but I was also so happy.
What happened once you got a bit older?
With age came the dark side. At some point I took the wrong avenue – using drugs, dealing with alcoholism – and I was deep into that darkness for many years. When I finished high school, I realized if I was going to go to university, I needed to be sober. And I knew I needed help to do that. I found that hope in Christ. I asked him for help and he pulled me out of my misery. A little later on, I married Susana and we have three kids, Pedro, Priscila, and Isaac.
We lived in the United States for almost 20 years, in California and Arizona, where I was involved in churches wherever we lived. I love to sing, so I would be on praise and worship teams. I even became an associate pastor and was involved in discipleship and evangelism. Meanwhile, I was running my own painting business and was finding success in it. After 9/11, though, our immigration case got messed up and we returned to Mexico.
How did you get connected to 1MISSION?
I found a job working as a security guard. My pastor wanted me to lead praise and worship at the church, but because of my job I often had to work Sundays. That’s when he introduced me to the team at 1MISSION, who let me know they were looking for a good-looking bilingual couple to oversee things at the basecamp. 😉
“It’s been seven years now. I can still remember those earliest days in the job, walking around the barrios and picturing myself as a kid, growing up in similar circumstances. But what can I say, I fell in love with this community and I love working with them as they find holistic solutions to the problems in their barrios. Before, as a teenager, I was spreading evil in my barrio. Now I have the opportunity to spread good news and encouragement to the people living in terrible conditions. It’s been a great journey.”
Right Image: Pedro and his wife Susana (left), along with Greg and Merle Yochim (right), standing beside the 700th house recipient (middle)!
What do you enjoy most about this work?
I lead a team of about 20 people, who are involved in various aspects of community development. Some of these team members have similar stories as mine – they have come from darkness into light – and they encourage me greatly. Every day, I get to visit families and hang out with people in the barrios. I love sitting down in their homes, having a coffee, and hearing from them, listening to them, and helping them get connected to the solutions they identify in their communities. We always have a good time together.
Image: Pedro’s team! Pedro leads a team of approximately 20 people in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. Meet the team next time you’re on a build trip.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
Susana and I love walking on the beach or going to the movies with Isaac. Sometimes I’ll take him to the batting cage or teach him some soccer skills. We also love real Mexican food, and we’re always trying to find the best spots to get some good enchiladas, tacos, or menudo.
Last but not least, what’s this I hear about jet skis?
I have a friend who runs a jet ski business at the beach. When we returned to live in Mexico, he was looking for someone who could speak English to communicate with tourist clients, so I took the job. Some of those tourists were older ladies, and they always had a hard time getting onto the jet skis. Sometimes I’d stop and think: I had gone from running a painting business to pushing old ladies onto jet skis! It was an adventure.
Did we mention he also sings…eyyy yiii yi yiiii?
Want to learn more about our team members? Meet them here.