A little over three years ago when we first considered making El Paso our home, I must confess I knew little more about El Paso other than what one could learn from a Marty Robbins’ ballad. I knew nothing of the rugged beauty of the Franklin Mountains or the pastel wonder of an evening sunset. I knew nothing about the history of this southwestern cross-roads and international melting pot. Nor did I know of the rich history of Fort Bliss and the great names like General Pershing and Omar Bradley, who walked the parade grounds in days gone by.
Briefly let me count the ways El Paso has warmed its way into my heart. I love living in the large city that is dis-guised as a colony of small towns. In a matter of minutes one can travel from a fruitful river valley community of wooded lots and farms to breath taking mountain views from your back porch. You can walk the streets of the Eastside and eat at some of the finest restaurants in the land after shopping some of the trendiest stores or you can find an “old hole in the wall” diner in the northeast and surround yourself with a cross section of people from uniformed soldiers to gangbangers.
One cannot speak of El Paso without mentioning its amazing food—especially Mexican food. One of my favorite observations is how everyone seems to have their favorite place to eat whether it be Leo’s, Avilas, Good Coffee, Carlos and Mickey’s or count-less other neighborhood diners. Of course, the younger generation loves their food that can swim. I am not talk-ing about sushi; I am talking about Chico’s Tacos swimming in its warm secret sauce! One must admit Chico’s Tacos is an acquired taste.
I love being in downtown El Paso with its historic buildings that can take one back to the streets of old Chicago or listening to the organ pumping out a tune in the Plaza Theatre before the running of an old classic movie during the film festival. The old Plaza Hotel opened by Conrad Hilton during the Great Depression reminds me that vision and courage can conquer depression and retreat day in and day out.
However, one cannot speak of their love for El Paso without mentioning the people. Great cities emerge from the faces and hearts of its people. The people of El Paso bring warmth to life much like the rays of the sun warm our faces. Hospitality does not fully capture the spirit of the city but it is a good start.
It’s my prayer that our church would continue to reflect the rich diversity and warmth of the city we call home. We “practice heaven on earth” by reflecting the glory revealed in Revelation 7:9 when John recorded what he witnessed: “ After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”
In El Paso we get a jump start on eternity!