Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to celebrate family and family traditions. This was my experience last weekend in Beeville, Texas. The Olivares Family, my wife’s maternal relatives gathered at the First Baptist Church of Beeville to share a Thanksgiving meal and to host a family reunion. Belinda, my wife, is the first-born child of Elia Olivares Alvarado and the late Rev. Baldemar Alvarado. The descendants of Belinda’s maternal grandparents, Rafael and Raquel Olivares, number 162 counting siblings, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. Of the 162 descendants, 74 were present including 3 foster children. I am blessed to be grafted into this family.
One of the highlights of the gathering was the recounting of the family history by Sylvia Chapa, one of the first cousins of the Olivares family and primary organizer of the family reunion. Mrs. Chapa told the story of the beginnings of the Olivares family. She reminded us that Raquel Perez Olivares was born in 1900 in a small home near Skidmore, Texas on a 36+ acre ranch the family still owns. This land has remained in the family’s possession for over 100 years. I have often visited the land in Skidmore. It is a moving experience to visit the land and see the home where Belinda’s grandmother was born. I am thankful for the blessing of roots to reflect on at Thanksgiving.
Raquel’s mother, Ramona Jaurez Mireles Perez, was born in 1860 in Presidio La Bahia, one of two historic missions one mile south of Goliad, Texas just north of Beeville. Later she married Antonio Perez, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, in 1876 and settled in Skidmore, Texas. Their son, Elias Bernardo Perez, became the founding pastor of the First Mexican Baptist Church of Skidmore in the early 1900’s. Presidio La Bahia was founded as a mission in 1749 and became home to the first signing of a Declaration of Independence of Texas from Mexico on December 20, 1835. La Bahia also became the site of the battle of Coletto Creek where over 300 of Col. Fannin’s men surrendered and were killed by Mexican soldiers on March 20, 1836 by order of Mexican General Santa Ana.
Ramona’s mother was Cecelia Jaurez. Members of the Olivares family are researching the date and place where she was born to discover blessings yet to be revealed.
Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for the blessing of our families and the families that have become a part of the larger Buckner family. The ministry of Buckner is focused on blessing families and making life better for children and families around the world. Foster families, adoptive families, forever families, transitional families, and families yet to be form part of our larger Buckner family. Our families are blessed and connected. Through an affiliation with Dillon International, Buckner continues to find forever families via inter-country adoption. It is a blessing beyond description.
The day before we left to Beeville for our Thanksgiving gathering and family reunion, I received news that the great-granddaughter of Leobardo (Maria Luisa) Lozano, a former Buckner staff member, was born. Eden Grace Ramirez was born to Andrea Reyes Ramirez and Fabian Ramirez in Mansfield, Texas. Gus (my brother) and Leticia Lozano Reyes are the proud grandparents of Eden Grace. The family continues to grow and blessings abound. That’s what Buckner is all about…blessing families and celebrating family blessings.