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Mission Trips Are Thanksgiving Tradition

RailWorks' Reuben Antonio, a mechanic out of Alpharetta, GA, travels annually on mission trips to Mexico or Central American countries. At the center in the uppermost photo, Reuben is pictured in El Salvador with traveling companions including his son, Oscar, standing at the far-left. In the image above, Oscar poses with children in El Salvador.

To give up usually means to quit or withdraw effort.  Giving up can also mean surrendering.

RailWorks’ Mechanic Ruben Antonio isn’t a quitter.  But he does have a habit of giving up, in a positive way. He surrenders a conventional vacation every November – usually a week surrounding the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday – to take part in a mission trip.

Each year except one since 2005, Ruben, who works in RailWorks’ Alpharetta, GA, office, has volunteered in Central America or Mexico.  He travels with 10-15 others from his church, and for the past two years, his son Oscar, now 19, has accompanied him.  Besides giving up vacation time, he uses primarily personal funds to finance his trips.

“My wife did a fund-raiser at work,” he says, “but most of the money we pay out of pocket.  We also give money to the people (where we are visiting).”

Ruben’s motivation is to share his Christian faith, which he does in school settings with students ages 8 to 18.  He says a week of teaching culminates in a graduation with the students receiving gifts from him and his travel companions.

A native of Mexico who grew up in west-central Texas, Ruben speaks English and Spanish, and has lent his time and talent in such places as Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras and most recently El Salvador.  In Mexico, he’s been able to communicate in a Zapotec dialect, spoken by natives of the central and southwestern highlands. 

A trip that stands out for Ruben?  He says it’s Nicaragua, where he described the children as “quiet and attentive” and praised the people there as ones who “appreciate what you do.”