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Rev. Michelle's Message March 7, 2024

Today is Paco and my 3rd wedding anniversary! It’s hard for me to even believe that I am a married woman now, much less that we’ve been married for three years already! Many of you are familiar with our story, but in case you haven’t heard it yet….


Paco and I first met in April of 1992 on a bus trip with 40 other people, traveling for 18 days all over Mexico. I was living in Guadalajara at the time, where Paco was born and raised, and we became good friends on that trip and stayed in touch after the trip was over. We never dated back then, but Paco was always someone I could count on and he would frequently pick me up at my job as an ESL teacher and we would go out for tacos and beer. He was as solid and reliable back then as he is now, and he was a great friend to me.


In the fall of 1993 I returned to the States to finish up my studies at UC Santa Cruz and Paco went to Davis to work and live with his aunt and uncle. We lost touch with each other (pre-email!) and had no contact for 27 years.


In February of 2020, just before the pandemic hit, Paco looked me up on Facebook and sent me a message. He was pretty surprised to see that the girl he used to drink beer with was now sober and a minister, but he knew it was me when I answered him back right away with some colorful Mexican slang. We began exchanging texts and then talked on the phone and then did video chat for hours while stuck inside under quarantine.


Our long conversations revealed that we got along easily, felt incredibly safe and comfortable with each other, and wanted the same things in life. We decided that since it would be pretty tough for me to leave my life in the States behind and move with Alexander to Mexico, he would come here to live. I made a quick trip to Guadalajara to see him in person in September of 2020, and three weeks later he came here to live with me and Alexander. We were married five months later on March 7, 2021.


We couldn’t have a big wedding because of the pandemic, but our tiny, simple wedding was perfect nonetheless. On my side, only my mom attended and Alexander walked me down the aisle. On Paco’s side, his cousin Bruno and his wife Celia, who live in Salinas, attended and were our witnesses. We got married on a Sunday right after the service and so a few folks who were there that day to help with the livestreaming and such stayed for the ceremony. Vicky officiated and Denise sang Save the Best for Last. We toasted with Martinelli’s and cake, and then noshed on Mexican food from El Torito. Even though our friends and family weren’t able to be there, they were all watching at home, both stateside and in Mexico, as we livestreamed the wedding on Facebook.


The reason I’m sharing all of this with you is because I am learning that a marriage is not just a private relationship you have with your spouse, but also a relationship that you share with your friends and family, and even with your church family. Our marriage has become a big part of my ministry work, as Paco has so beautifully and effortlessly integrated into our community and helps me and many others with so many things around the church.


Also, our story is proof that we just never know what life has in store for us. At 50 years old, neither Paco nor I really thought we would ever get married. And we certainly never imagined we would marry someone we had met when we were 21 years old on a crazy bus trip through Mexico. Life is so full of surprises, so full of blessings in the form of things we never knew we even needed or wanted. Every single good and wonderful thing that has come to me in life has been a total surprise and had nothing at all to do with any of my own planning. Just when you think nothing in life makes sense, things can suddenly fall into place in a way that takes your breath away.


To me all of this is proof of a loving God of infinite goodness, who is constantly seeking to express itself in new and amazing ways. Spirit works mysteriously in, through, and as us, and is always finding unique ways to bring more love and joy and beauty into the world. Our task is to remain open, full of wonder and awe, and to be willing participants in God’s great design for bringing more goodness and light to the world.


I also want to thank all of you for so graciously welcoming Paco into our community with open arms and hearts, and for creating a supportive space in which our marriage can flourish.

Many Blessings,

Rev. Michelle


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