Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Reynosa, Mexico
Reynosa is located just south of McAllen Texas on the US/Mexico border. It is just over 300 miles from Austin and an easy 6 hour car ride down I-35/37 (or 130 Tollway) and then onto Texas Hwy 281 straight to the border crossing at Pharr - a suburb of McAllen.
We serve in the communities East of downtown Reynosa that are right on the border and our accomodations are less than a mile from these communities. We rarely travel more than 5 miles into Mexico.
Crossing the Border
It is very easy to travel across the US/Mexico nowadays.
Passports are required for all Adults and highly recommended for Minors traveling with parents.
While minors 15 and under can travel with an original or certified copy of their birth certificate
in lieu of their passport, Rohi recommends all people traveling in your party carry a valid Passport,
if possible. There is a small fee each way (less than $5.00 US) when you cross.
If you need to secure a Passport through normal US Government channels you need to plan for up to 6 weeks for processing. You can secure the necessary forms at any Post Office.
For a small expedite fee this firm in downtown Austin can secure a Passport in as fast as a single day - Austin Passport Express. Many have used them in the past with satisfaction.
Car / Car Insurance
If you are driving your own vehicle you likely will not need any supplemental car insurace. Most insurance companies provide coverage up to 25 miles into Mexico. We do not venture more than 5 miles. However, we highly recommend that you call your Agent or Insurance Company to confirm your individual coverage.
Money and Credit Cards
All of your meals are provided for while in Mexico; however, if you’d like to buy some tacos from a street vendor or cold drinks at a nearby 7-11, you will want to bring some spending money. US Dollars are accepted; plan on small denominations to minimize the Pesos you will receive as Change.
Credit cards are accepted at major stores like Home Depot, HEB and Walmart if you need to make a larger purchase south of the border (for example, if your car battery dies and you must replace it). You may consider calling your bank or credit card company to alert them that you are, in fact, traveling to Mexico for the weekend - especially if you do not travel regularly.
Big Heart - Where We Stay phone: 210- 579- 0902
We have a decade long partnership with Big Heart Orphanage (Casa Hogar Corazon Grande) in the suburbs of Reynosa. It's just a mile from the Colonias in which we serve and only minutes from the US/Mexico border.
Big Heart Operations
Big Heart is run by Americans Robert "Gator" Carter, his wife Deanna and their son Micah and his wife Jenny. They are 2nd generation missionaries.
By U.S. standards Big Heart is more akin to a boarding school for underprivileged kids - than traditional orphanage. The kids range from 5 to 16 years old.
Big Heart houses between 10-20 kids regularly and they have their own school adjacent to the living facilities. You will have a chance to meet and interact with the kids; they love meeting new visitors.
On property are specially built dormitories for Missions groups such as ours. Our fees help offset their operating costs. The dorms have A/C and Heat along with hot showers and bunk beds along with a cafeteria-style kitchen where we'll eat our meals...think a really nice summer camp-style set up!
The property is completely walled-in and gated so vehicles are parked inside at night for convenience & security.
And since Big Heart IS for kids look forward to a HUGE playscape, swings, merry-go-round, trampoline, and even a built-in swimming pool!
Who Comes on the Trips
People just like you come on our trips.
Rohi collaborates with many different churches and organizations to draw its trip participants as well as simply offering the opportunity to anyone who shows an interest in serving.
Bring a friend - we are an excellent option for First Timers. We tend to have a great mix of experienced folks and first time folks. We will always lead our trips with experienced group leaders and Rohi Board Members.
Since we are family oriented, we have had groups with kids as young as 2 years old - up to Grandma & Grandpa coming along. Our trip structure and accomodations set up perfectly for any mix of attendees.
You don't need to be particularly skilled in any area(s) as we organize our trips around those that are coming and we create projects and serving opportunities specifically tuned to your interests and areas expertise.
What To Pack
Packing for Reynosa is easy.
Personal Effects - Clothes and Toiletries
Projects vary by trip and are tailored to the group. Always essential are hats, soap, shampoo, hand sanitizer, prescriptions, sunscreen, sunglasses, ear plugs, and work gloves.
Sturdy shoes - work boots are recommended but good sneakers are also fine. Culturally, we ask the men not to wear shorts while in the Colonias, fine for women and kids however. Bring one nicer outfit for the Thanksgiving dinner. It doesn’t have to be church attire, but you may want something a little nicer than what you’ve been working in.
When we return to Big Heart for dinner, hot showers and clean-up you can transition to your favorite shorts, sweats or jammies, flip flops or sandals. Big Heart provides pillows, sheets, blankets and towels. Some prefer their own pillows or blankets - feel free to bring what's most comfortable for your sleep needs.
Tools & Equipment
For our scheduled projects we will have the necessary equipment on the ground, but we recommend that folks bring their own personal hand tools/toolbelts as many prefer to work with their own tools on projects. Please mark your tools so we can keep track. You should feel comfortable with the security of your tools while we work in the Colonias; we've had very few issues with tools "walking off".
Food and Snacks
Your fee covers all of your meals while in Mexico, but we recommend you bring favorite snacks for your car ride and to have throughout the days while in the Colonia - especially for your kiddos...they're always hungry, right?
We provide clean, drinkable water throughout the trip - in the Colonias and at the Orphanage - but we do recommend you bring sufficient water and other drinks for your family for additional convenience. Sometimes we will split groups up to work on various projects across the Colonia neighborhoods and you may be apart from the centralized water coolers for part of the day.
Cell Phones / Internet Access
Plan on bringing your phone to take pictures and use your various apps. Most people in the Colonia have cell phones, so it will be normal for you to have one as well. With technology, comes the need for chargers. No adapters are needed as they have the same power and outlets as in the US.
There will be intermittent US-based cell phone coverage and full Mexico cell phone coverage. Check with your provider on your options to have and use your phone while in Mexico. Big Heart Orphanage does have wi-fi internet access although it is speed challenged at times. Mainly, plan on being unplugged; it will refresh you and your family to set the electronics aside for a few days.
Bring a small flash light for the dormitories (to find things at night without turning the lights on) and a Spanish/English dictionary or app on your phone. Also if you play an instrument, especially guitar, feel free to bring it and entertain us all!
We will communicate in our informational meeting the specific resources we may be collecting or securing donations for on the next trip. However, we are always open to receiving:
Shoes - all sizes and styles
Winter Coats - all sizes and styles
Blankets - especially baby blankets
Rice & Beans, Baby Formula, Diapers
School Supplies - all kinds, especially spanish reading books
Your Safety is Our Priority
Rohi participants have been traveling to, and serving in Reynosa since 2002 - even before Rohi was formed. Across all of these groups and trips, which now number into the hundreds, we have never had any security or safety issues. ZERO...
It is easy to find news articles and Government Alerts that warn against traveling to any border town. Please take the time to connect with the Rohi Board of Directors on the data you find and we can share our recent experiences and provide you with data on our most recent trips.
The Rohi Board of Directors monitors dozens of sites, security agencies, and talks with our Missionaries on the ground weekly. We conduct post trip interviews with our groups upon their return to determine the actual, real time situation that they have experienced.
McAllen Medical Center LINK TO HOSPITAL DIRECTIONS
301 W Expressway 83
McAllen, TX 78503
US Embassy in Mexico
U.S. Citizens needing immediate assistance can call the Embassy at any time from:
Mexico City: 5080-2000
Elsewhere in Mexico: 01-55-5080-2000
The U.S.: 011-52-55-5080-2000
During Business Hours: Dial 5080-2000 x4440 to reach American Citizens Services.
Outside Business Hours: Press "0" to speak to an operator and ask to be connected to the Duty Officer.
Note: this service is ONLY for assistance in an emergency directly affecting a U.S. Citizen in Mexico.