Norberto and Lisa Cortés established Misión Mazahua in 1978 in the Hacienda de Tepetitlan, once headquarters of the patrón who kept the Mazahuans as serfs working his vast holdings and is located at the hub of the region occupied by the Mazahua Indians. The hacienda which when purchased was 95% ruins, is now a favorite spot for many. The mission brings simple amenities, spiritual sustenance, and economic hope to folk who mostly escape the notice of important people in Mexico City.
Norberto and Lisa insist that providing social services, without the Gospel, is not enough; but equally, that Gospel witness must also bring transformation to people’s lives. Norberto is a visionary and a full-time exhorter, a blur of persistent motion towards transformative goals. Lisa, a farm girl from Ohio, keeps a slightly lower profile, moving with grace through the countryside, weaving a fabric of enduring friendships.
The dreams they have championed include the growing of amaranth, an indigenous crop with high protein content, to reduce local dependence on corn; the manufacture of solar ovens to conserve scarce firewood; the farming of trout, mud puppies earthworms, mushrooms, rabbits, and pigs; horsebreeding; raptor rehabilitation; tutoring for village children to help them pass high school entrance tests; a dormitory in the city of Atlacomulco for those who do qualify for high school; English language classes for elementary children in nearby villages; and college opportunities in the U.S. for promising students. The mission also works extensively with the region’s many disabled residents, sponsoring events like the True Friends wheelchair camp.