Living on a Mission

By Megan Willome

The Sanchez Family

Pictured: Photographs by Cecy Ayala, photographybycecy.com

TThe Sanchez family lives in the cutest house on the block, with a sliding gate. The front yard is small, perhaps because it is overwhelmed by a full-size soccer goal. Soccer is important to the Sanchezes. Parents Jose and Raquel played in high school, and Jose still plays about twice a month. Of the four kids, three play. Axel, 16, just finished his fourth season with the Dallas Texans.

The other thing you notice as you walk in the Sanchezes’ home is the “Walk By Faith” sign. Faith is important to them. They attend Antioch Community Church and are part of the outreach called Antioch Español.

In an email setting up the interview, Raquel said, “We love God and soccer and serving!” Those three priorities sum up the family and explain why a Friday evening was the only time they could meet.

When I arrived, Raquel was making guacamole — just for me. The avocadoes and tomatoes were already combined. She had a cutting board and a large knife, and I watched her add cilantro. She asked how much “chili” I wanted, meaning how many jalapenos. I told her I like it hot, so she diced them, seeds and all. She combined all the ingredients in a bowl with a fork, the way my mother did. Chips were arranged on a tray.

Jose was running late. He’d been working in Killeen that day, and Friday afternoon traffic always takes longer. He said he sometimes drives an hour, maybe an hour and 20 minutes one way to a job. He’s an independent drywall subcontractor, and after he arrived, he shook my hand and then excused himself to get cleaned up.

“I’m a mom of four amazing kids,” Raquel said. I met each of them, starting with Axel. Later Angel, age 13, came to say hello. “Angel is my angel literally. He helps me with everything,” Raquel said. After playing soccer for a few years, Angel switched to cross country and track, but mainly he is focused on getting straight As and looking toward college. Gisell, 9, and Aaron, 6, both play HOT Soccer. They stayed entertained with a Monopoly game in the next room while we adults visited at the dining room table. The family also has two dogs: Ruby, a golden retriever, and Juni, a Great Dane.

I visited with Raquel in the kitchen until Jose came home, and then we all sat down together.

WACOAN: How long have you been at Antioch?

Raquel: Since January 2010, since I was four months pregnant with Aaron.

We serve in the Spanish ministry. In the beginning we were going to the English service, and I’d go to the Spanish once a month. There were maybe seven to eight Hispanics. Now there’s about — with kids — about 200. Now there’s a weekly service.

WACOAN: When is that?

Raquel: At 5 o’clock every Sunday. We’re growing, trying to get people connected, Hispanics connected.

I’m inviting all the soccer parents, every team, we’ll invite them to come. That’s all we can do. It’s slowly getting there. I thought it would be faster, like a tag game. But it takes time and patience, just like fishing.

WACOAN: What was your church background?

Raquel: I grew up Jehovah’s Witness, from 5 to 14 or 15 [years old]. My mom would always pick us up from Valentine’s parties, Christmas parties in school. We couldn’t do Fourth [of July] with the family. My mom is still Jehovah’s Witness. That’s the only thing she’s ever practiced.

I got married young. I was 17. It was hard for me to do our first Christmas tree. I felt like I was betraying God. After the third pregnancy, we said, ‘We need to find a church.’ And we went back to Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I didn’t like how my kids were bored. God led us to Antioch.

WACOAN: I know you went on a mission trip to Uganda as part of the Antioch Discipleship School. When was that?

Raquel: Two thousand fourteen. Both Axel and Angel went too. It was our first mission trip together. It was awesome. I’d do it all over again. Just going [to Uganda] was like two days, being over the Atlantic, so many hours.

The only reason we didn’t get anxious or grouchy was because it was God. If it was a family trip, I would’ve been, ‘ARRGHHH!’ We had a mission. It was our first time doing anything like this.

Uganda was amazing. I just couldn’t believe that by saying yes to God that he’d blow us over there.

My kids loved it. I was scared they were going to get sick or not like the food. Angel, he was always with me. [The people there] were saying, ‘He’s gonna be a big, fat man.’ I was like, ‘Fat man?’ and they said, ‘Fat man to us is strong.’ He had one of those mohawks. These kids were crazy about touching it.

[Pulls out her phone to show me videos of Uganda.]

WACOAN: How many kids are we talking about?

Raquel: Two hundred to 300 kids.

There were people in the streets with malaria, and we were like, ‘Can we pray for you?’ We discipled people. I ran across a lot of people that were prodigals, that needed to get back to the way. They all wanted us to come to their houses. There’d be five people in one room [house].

The [workers] in the hotel, the light was on from 5 in the morning till 12 at night. There was a little bar in the back of the hotel if people wanted to drink. I talked to a woman named Janey — ‘Sit down, take a break.’ She’d say, ‘I gotta work.’ I’d ask, ‘How much do you get paid?’ [She said,] ‘A dollar.’

I was like, ‘I can’t complain. I stay at home with my kids. And I have so much to do, but it’s nothing compared to what you do. You’re such hardworking people and so humble and so grateful and always smiling.’

They’re so happy to serve you. We learned more from them. They didn’t want us to leave. [They said,] ‘Bring your family!’

WACOAN: How long were you there?

Raquel: Two weeks. It went by so fast.

Axel went on another trip to Berlin for another two weeks his freshman year. They went to help the Syrian refugees. We prayed about it. He said God wants him to go.

We sold tamales, we sold enchiladas, burritos to make it happen. We did a yard sale — two yard sales. In the past I’ve done yard sales that only made $50. This yard sale we made $1,298.

WACOAN: Wait, say that number again.

Raquel: One thousand two hundred and ninety-eight dollars!

My husband was like, ‘Don’t do it. You’re only gonna get 50 dollars.’ We did it from 8 in the morning till 8 in the afternoon for three days. I’m like, ‘This is for God, he’s gonna make things happen.’

All we had [left] to raise was $100, and then it came in the mail! God was all over it. He’s always faithful.

And now [Axel] is going to Tijuana, [Mexico,] this year.

WACOAN: And that’s with the youth group?

Raquel: It’s a trip through the high school group. They’re gonna be helping a church called All Peoples Church. They’re part of Antioch.

It’s a lot less [money] than Berlin was. I told him, ‘Start cutting grass and try to raise whatever you can. And God will make it happen. You just have to have a willing heart.’

But it’s hard to have him work in the weekends because he’s having tournaments. We’ll be out again tomorrow because he won his three games.

For Tijuana, it’s Mexico. He hasn’t been to Mexico since he was 3. He needs to use his soccer skills and Spanish out there.

WACOAN: Since he plays soccer, I think he’ll do fine.

Raquel: He said it was that way with the kids from Syria [on the Berlin trip]. Little kids, they see a ball, and they just come to you.

Soccer is a language you don’t have to [speak] — when we were in Uganda, a bunch of kids would just come. There was 60 people against 60 just playing crazy. I’m like, ‘How do you do it without shoes, barefooted?’

[Jose joins us.]

Raquel: This is Jose.

WACOAN: Nice to meet you. I heard you got stuck in traffic.

Jose: Yes. It was Friday.

Raquel: [Hands him the guacamole.] He needs to be the tester.

Jose: [Tries the guacamole.]

Raquel: [Nods to me.] She likes it hot.

Jose: [Shakes his head.] No esta.

Raquel: No? OK, I’ll put this one [jalapeno] in.

Jose: I think that’s enough. [To me.] Give it a try.

WACOAN: Oh, that is so good! Nothing like fresh guacamole.

Jose: You like it spicy?

WACOAN: Yes!

Raquel: I don’t cook a lot with jalapenos, only if I remember.

WACOAN: People don’t usually feed me at interviews. This is wonderful, especially at the end of the day.

Raquel: I wish I could’ve made fajitas and everything! Some rice!

Jose: No sandwiches.

Raquel: I make him sandwiches every morning at 5:30 [a.m.] To save, we’re on a budget.

We just don’t eat out as much, maybe once or twice a month. The kids like to eat here, and he likes it too.

WACOAN: Are you from Waco?

Raquel: I was born in Houston, moved when I was 2 to Dallas. Then a year and a half there and moved to Waco. I’ve been here since, maybe about 5. I lived across the street, my mom and dad, over there.

Now my brother lives across the street, and my other brother lives over there, my grandma lives like four houses down. It’s like, ‘Give me a tomato!’ ‘Here!’ You just go around, asking for rice, for beans. ‘I forgot this. I just went to H-E-B, but I need cilantro.’ ‘I have cilantro.’ Maybe we’ll just send the kids over.

WACOAN: And I know you went to University High School.

Raquel: I went to University, graduated in 2001. Then to [Texas State Technical College] for two years for drafting and design.

Then Axel was already gonna start school, and Angel was smaller — he was like 3, and he’d cry every day for a whole year, every morning in day care. I had [Axel when I was] in high school, so I didn’t enjoy him like I could have if I’d stayed at home because I had to finish and graduate and then go to college.

Then I had Angel two weeks before I graduated from TSTC. I stayed with him for about a year and then started working. I’d take him to dental checkups, and he was scared, and I was translating everything. They were like, ‘You’re so good at this. Do you want to come work here?’

WACOAN: Where was this?

Raquel: Stonewood Dental. I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ My husband was like, ‘OK.’ I worked there for about a year.

Then I thought I should be working in drafting, so I found an ad and applied and did Meridian Precast & Granite and worked for an engineer there for about two years.

Then I felt bad because Angel would cry every day [at day care]. I told my husband, ‘You know what? Paying for child care and the gas, if I stay at home I’m gonna save more money.’ And I did.

I came across [material by financial adviser] Dave Ramsey at work, and he got into my brain. And we got debt free back in ’06. I took Angel out of day care and stayed with him the last year before he went to school and enjoyed that.

My dad wasn’t happy for me to stay at home. He was excited when I was doing drafting, and he wanted me to do it two more years or four more years.

And then surprise! I’m pregnant with a third. She came when [Angel] was going to start school. I thought I’d go back to work, but I guess I’m gonna enjoy the pregnancy. Since then I’ve been learning how to live on a budget and make sandwiches and tacos and wake up at 5:30 [a.m.] and make [Jose] his breakfast and lunch and make the kids breakfast.

WACOAN: Jose, when did you come here?

Jose: It’s a long story. I came here with my brother when I was 13 years old. Then I’m staying [whispers to Raquel in Spanish] … I’m terrible to tell the story.

Raquel: His mom died. She was going to have surgery. She had a feeling something wasn’t going to go good. She talked to his sister-in-law and said, ‘If something wrong happens, bring my son and daughter with you.’ So they did.

Jose: I never knew that story.

Raquel: He didn’t know this until his sister-in-law told him when we were married, way later. [His mom] knew something might happen. He was like 11 when she died. This was November 17, 1993. He came, and his brother was a painter.

Jose: I was 13. Two years with my brother, and then I started high school. I was almost 15.

WACOAN: Where?

Jose: At University.

WACOAN: And when did you finish?

Jose: I didn’t finish.

Raquel: We got married second semester of senior year because I was pregnant. He came out [of school] to start providing. He’s like, ‘You stay in school.’

WACOAN: So you met in high school?

Raquel: We met in high school, at soccer. He was the best one! They would call him El Matador because there was an El Matador in Mexico [Luis Hernández] that would score all the goals, and [Jose] would score all the goals.

We met when he was a sophomore and I was a freshman. We met that summer, like right now, this time of year. A friend introduced us. And we didn’t get to know each other until we went back to school, and he was a junior and I was a sophomore.

WACOAN: Raquel, did you play soccer too?

Raquel: Yes, I played. My aunt, when I was in eighth grade and she was a sophomore at University, she’s like, ‘I need 50 girls to sign up to make the team happen.’ It was me and my sister, and we convinced our friends.

We didn’t know anything. We were losing like 20-0. But we were laughing and having fun. We didn’t take it serious. But sophomore year, that summer we were practicing because we lost against Waco High that freshman year. The coaches put it in us that we had to beat Waco High, and we did! Me and my sister, we beat them 5-3. We surprised them. One of us scored three [goals], and the other scored two, and we won.

And then I met [Jose]. I played all the way through junior and senior year, and he did too. Until once I got pregnant, he was like, ‘I need to start working.’ He worked in drywall for my uncle for about two years and then went on his own.

Jose: I don’t like drywall, but I like it enough.

WACOAN: Do you have any other family here in Waco?

Jose: Yes, I have my brother. That’s it.

WACOAN: I know you were working in Killeen today. Where all do you work?

Jose: Killeen, Copperas Cove, Lampasas, Salado, Georgetown, Austin.

Raquel: He’s been doing it since that time. He hasn’t stopped.

WACOAN: With your schedule, do you ever get to play soccer? Like in a men’s league?

Jose: No, not much time.

Raquel: They’re always calling him at the men’s soccer league.

Jose: There’s always a game.

Raquel: There’s always a men’s league game on Sundays. He’s already in a team, but they know he’s busy. But when he shows up, they’re happy.

Jose: Probably two times a month.

Raquel: And he’s a veteran compared to those kids. They’re like 20, 21 years, but he’s still better than them! He still has it, even though he’s not practicing.

And he coached our kids. He gets his practice by coaching.

Jose: I feel so good coaching my daughter. Yes, it’s something really special for me. I like to see those kids growing in soccer and just to share something what I know, some tricks. And I like what those girls are doing when they’re playing. It’s a good experience.

WACOAN: How long has Gisell played?

Jose: Since she was 5.

Raquel: She will be 10 in September. She’s 9.

Jose: Even sometimes I was so mad, I’d come home [from a game] upset.

Raquel: Sometimes he’ll get mad because she’s capable of so much. But she’s tired. She’ll start walking. He’ll get mad, ‘Don’t walk!’ She’s one of the best players.

WACOAN: And this is HOT Soccer?

Raquel: Yes, he coached Axel since he was 7 all the way to when he was 12. That’s when he went to select. He got picked up.

WACOAN: Tell me about that because I know that’s a busy lifestyle.

Jose: [Sighs.]

Raquel: [Shakes her head.] Tuesday we went to practice [in Dallas]. It’s just trying to make it work.

Waco Blast [soccer club] was gonna be done. The main guy, Steve Bravo, talked to my husband and said, ‘Axel and Edwin [another player] are really good. I have a friend in Dallas that has a team that’s really good. I don’t want you to stay here and do nothing.’ That’s how we went and tried out.

[Axel] got picked up, and he’s been starting since then, all the games. He’s been there four years already. It’s about to end the end of May. The contract’s from June to June.

WACOAN: Does it stop at a certain age?

Jose: 18, 19.

Raquel: You pray for a good college to pick them up for all that sacrifice, driving and time. It was crazy during discipleship school. God made everything work out.

[Jose] would get here right on time — and I went to [class] — and had to take them to practice. It’s crazy, it’s demanding, but it’s worth it when we’re sitting there.

The games are a different level. It’s so challenging. It’s good soccer. That’s what makes it worth it, and he’s putting in the effort.

He just transferred from Rapoport [Academy] to Waco High this semester just to play soccer because they don’t offer soccer at Rapoport. He grew up playing HOT Soccer with friends from Waco High. They’re like, ‘Come!’ We prayed about it. We wanted him in Midway, but we don’t live in Midway. And God gave him a dream and said, ‘Waco High,’ and gave him peace. We have peace about the coach.

Jose: Soccer family! It’s all of us.

WACOAN: Did you ever play in a women’s league?

Raquel: I played on a women’s league until my daughter was about 7. I couldn’t juggle it. The fields were across the street from each other, but they’d play at 9 [a.m.] and I’d play at 9:30, and I’m like no.

WACOAN: Because you want to see her play.

Raquel: It’s her time.

Tomorrow [Axel] has a semifinal game. And then Aaron has a game at 2:30 [p.m.] Axel plays at 11 [a.m. in Dallas], so we’re trying to juggle.

Aaron’s coach called us and said, ‘Aaron said he can’t play because his brother’s playing in Dallas. You can’t do that to us! I can pick him up. We’ve won all our games. We’re not gonna lose our last game.’

Now we’re leaving at 8:30 in the morning and not get home until 2:45 [p.m.] The game starts at 2:30. We’ll make it happen. I don’t feel comfortable leaving him.

WACOAN: Tell me more about Rapoport.

Raquel: We wanted a better school district for our kids. Our home school wasn’t academically passing standards.

We were transferring to Robinson to get a better school district. My mom lives in Robinson, so we did the grandma law. I would drive every day. But we had soccer practice at 5 [p.m.], and so I’d pick them up at 4:30 because they have to do homework.

One evening the police passed by and they saw me pick them up at 4:30, and [Robinson] kicked them out that day. They said, ‘No, you have to be here till 5. That’s how the grandma law works.’ I was crying, ‘No, they’ve established relationships.’ [They] said, ‘OK, they can stay, but they have to move in with your mom.’ So they did for three months.

That was hard for me for them to live over there because I’m so used to tucking them in, doing Bible stories. I would drive and do that and come home at night. I told the principal, ‘I’m trying to make it work. This is not working.’ The principal said, ‘Since you tried, we’re gonna charge you $1,000 for each kid’ [the transfer fee from out of district]. We did that for a year, but then we’re like, ‘This is not working. This is too much.’

We said, ‘Let’s go move to Midway and look for a house,’ and we found a tiny home, worked with a realtor. We were waiting to do a for sale by owner. We had put applications in at Rapoport too.

At the same time [the homeowner] said yes that they’d lower the price, then Rapoport called and said there was an open door for two [younger kids]. And Midway had an open door for two [older kids]. So the two that weren’t picked up at Rapoport were picked up at Midway for a transfer fee, $500. I was like, ‘I’m gonna make it work somehow.’ I drove it — it would take exactly an hour.

At the end two siblings [at Rapoport] had moved to Tennessee, and they were the exact age of the [two open spaces] at Midway. They were like, ‘This never happens.’ And we were fasting and praying that week for God to talk. They all got in!

So we’re like, ‘What do we do?’ [Rapoport] said we could try it for two weeks. The kids were like, ‘If we don’t like it for those two weeks, we can go to Midway.’ [Rapoport] started two weeks before Midway. So they did, and after two weeks the kids were like, ‘We love it. We feel like it’s a family.’

Once a month I’m doing cardboard at school, at Rapoport.

WACOAN: Cardboard?

Raquel: They pick up cardboard from the high school and middle school, and we take it to the GreenFiber recycling place to earn a scholarship for kids. Every week there’s a parent doing it.

Axel struggled because it was a lot more challenging than Robinson, and he started in eighth grade, versus my first-grader [Gisell], my pre-K-er [Aaron]. [Axel] had a lot of homework every day, an hour and a half of homework every day.

WACOAN: That’s a hard time to move, eighth grade.

Raquel: Thank God they opened Rapoport, and they’re happy there.

And between all that we flipped a house since we didn’t sell it. We were like, ‘God, what do you want us to do? Do you want us to stay here?’ God spoke to my husband, and he told you —

Jose: Stay.

Raquel: Fix it to get it ready for lifegroup, open up lifegroup for the Spanish ministry. There’s a lot of Hispanics in this area. We opened it May 2, 2016.

WACOAN: How long have you lived here?

Raquel: Since Angel was 3, so 10 years.

WACOAN: It’s such a cute house. It seems like you’ve done a lot.

Raquel: In a year [Jose] did it. From here to that corner wall. There was this little hallway over there that he cut to make that room a little bit bigger so Aaron could fit into that room. Now we all fit! We just bought bunkbeds, and we’ve made it work.

WACOAN: What was your schedule like when you were in discipleship school?

Raquel: It was crazy. It was Monday and Thursday from 6-9 [p.m.]

It was very intense, everything we had to do. We had memory verses. We were reading books, writing essays, learning Scripture, the teaching that was preached. It was a lot.

I told my husband it was the best thing that’s happened besides my family, beside my kids and him. I felt like God was walking with me by the hand.

In discipleship school I wouldn’t come home till 10 [p.m.], and I’d stay up till 12 [a.m.] telling him everything I’ve learned. [Jose] was so sleepy. He was going to wake up at 5 [a.m.], but he was always there listening. He got everything out of it that I did because I’d share.

WACOAN: And you didn’t have to do all the work. All you had to give up was sleep.

Jose: The next day she’d ask, ‘So what did you think about everything I told you last night?’

Raquel: He got everything. They said, ‘Are you sure you want to do it without your husband?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ [Jose] is like, ‘Do it. We’ll make it work. God said yes, so we’ll do it.’

They say when a mom or dad does it, the whole family gets impacted, and he did. He started spending time with Jesus early in the morning.

Jose: Changed our life, the whole family.

Raquel: [The class] went on our first retreat before we started the school so we could all meet each other, the families. He didn’t want to go. He was so quiet. He’s like, ‘My English is not that good.’ He was just so nervous.

They’d have us wake up early in the morning to spend time with Jesus. We stayed there for two days. He was quiet and shy. They made him feel good. He just opened up. He said at the end, after spending time with Jesus in the mornings, ‘Now I know how Moses felt to see God face to face.’

Jose: [Nods.]

Raquel: There’s still fruit. It’s still happening. He is a great spiritual leader and leads his family well.

And we’re not perfect at all. We have a willing heart, and we’re learning from everybody that’s around us. And we try to teach our kids the good stuff and hopefully they don’t catch the bad stuff. It gets hectic sometimes.

WACOAN: And you volunteer with Meals & Wheels?

Raquel: Oh, yes. Fridays. Me and my sister, Sandra. We’ve been doing it for maybe three years. I’d be on Waco Drive, and I’d see the signs. I’d hear it on the radio. I said, ‘I want to do this, but I need a partner. I don’t want to do it by myself.’

It happened that my sister, they cut her hours, so she had Fridays off. So we decided, ‘Let’s go do this.’ And we’ve been doing it ever since.

We love it. We have a relationship with the people we give meals to. Sometimes they give us extra rounds when there’s not a volunteer on a Monday. It’s awesome to be able to serve the elder people.

Some people are literally handicapped. There’s a lot of times they need oxygen. Most of them are about 80 or above. Some are strong and happy, and they come out.

We’re giving them food, but who’s doing the rest for them? We just pray for them.

WACOAN: Do you deliver in a particular neighborhood?

Raquel: East Waco. So it’s right there by where Aaron goes to school.

My kids will come with me in the summer. They’ll ask, ‘Are we gonna do Meals on Wheels?’ My daughter will memorize their names. [She’ll say,] ‘Did they ask for me because I’m in school again?’ I say, ‘Yes, they do. They remember you.’ The one [Gisell] asked for in particular, she just stopped requesting [meals], and we can’t go and visit her, but we had established relationships after two years.

There were clients that were twins. They were veterans, and then one passed away. They were always sitting down outside together. You meet people, and some people die, and you don’t see them again. You get attached to them. There’s always more people to serve. There’s always another client.

Sometimes my grandma goes with me. When I don’t know who to take with me, I’ll take my grandma. She’s like 70. There’s this older guy that’s like 80-something. He came out, and I said, ‘My grandma’s here.’ And he said, ‘Oh, hola! How are you?’ It’s like the sun came out when he saw her. My grandma was like, ‘I can’t believe it. He was trying to hit on me.’

He asks for her every time. If she doesn’t come for two weeks, he’ll ask, ‘Where’s your grandma at?’ He’s so funny.

WACOAN: Are you lifegroup leaders?

Jose: Yes, every other Monday.

Raquel: We say from 6:30-8 [p.m.], but it usually lasts till 9:30. Kids want to play and play and play. It’s your other family. We forget that they have school the next day.

WACOAN: Besides lifegroup, is there anything else you’re involved in at Antioch?

Jose: We serve in the children’s ministry, taking care of pre-K [children]. I assist. She’s the teacher.

Raquel: He’s good at getting the babies to stop crying. Sometimes there’s babies that have a sibling and don’t want to stay in the baby room. They’re crying so bad, and I can’t carry them because I’m teaching them in the front. I was like — because he’s a dad already — ‘I need you to get that baby.’ And then when I’m done, they stay with him. He gets the crying babies, and then they end up liking him, and they don’t want me.

WACOAN: That’s a talent.

Jose: Thank you.

WACOAN: How big is the class?

Jose: Nine, 10? Sometimes 16.

Raquel: Ten to 16 because it’s the Spanish ministry. If it was the English ministry, it’d be like 120.

Angel helps too. And Gisell helps us.

WACOAN: How often do you work in the class?

Raquel: It’s every Sunday that we’re not in soccer.

Jose: But we like it. I like it a lot. I like to be around the kids.

WACOAN: It sounds like most of your free time is filled with soccer and church, but when you do have some time off, what do you like to do as a family?

Jose: Watch TV. Make apple pie.

Raquel: He makes delicious apple pie. [To Jose:] You should’ve made her an apple pie.

WACOAN: No, no. You’re too kind.

Raquel: Eat ice cream. Watch Redbox movies.

Jose: Play Connect Four.

Raquel: Kick the ball outside. Did you see the goal?

WACOAN: I did notice that.

Raquel: Our backyard is not as big because we had to add a room in the back. We put [the soccer goal] in the front yard. So that’s what we do is kick.

Jose: And running.

Raquel: When the kids aren’t in school and he’s not working (if it’s raining), that’s our stress reliever. Time with Jesus in the morning and then go run.

WACOAN: Where do you run?

Raquel: At Cameron Park.

Jose: Sometimes.

Raquel: We try to challenge each other — P90X workouts, Insanity workouts. Try to stay healthy. We like working out together.

WACOAN: So a date for y’all is working out?

Jose: Yes.

Raquel: That’s a date. I said, ‘How about we go work out for my birthday?’ It was March 4. He made it work to where he didn’t go to work.

I was like, ‘You surprised me? So what are we gonna do? Let’s go to the gym!’ He’s like, ‘You want to go to the gym? On your birthday? I stayed here for us to go to the gym?’ I said, ‘Yes, we’ve gotta get our workout.’ Then we went to the gym, came home, changed, got ready, just had lunch.

WACOAN: I assume with so much family in town that you spend a lot of time with them.

Raquel: Yes. My mom and dad, they don’t know when to come in because they think we’re always out. My dad’s like, ‘You need to stop because you’re always so busy.’ But I’m happy. I enjoy serving and doing the soccer we do. Without it our life would be boring.

We get to talk to people at soccer, in Dallas. We make them feel comfortable and open a door to where if they share we can share and pray for them. We go to Florida [with these families], we go to Oklahoma, to Houston, to San Antonio, to Las Vegas. I’m like, ‘Oh man, these are people I’m gonna see all the time that enjoy soccer, and I get to share Jesus.’ You’ve gotta be on a mission everywhere you go.

WACOAN: Do you have any plans this summer? Besides soccer.

Raquel: Soccer’s over in the summer.

Jose: Every summer we take a little break. Probably a week.

Raquel: We haven’t decided what we’re gonna do this year. Last year went to Disney [World]. We drove over there.

Jose: We might go to Port Aransas, maybe.

WACOAN: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Jose: I want to add she’s an incredible mom. She makes everything happen. And, how can I say it? If there’s another life, I want to be with her in the other life too.

Raquel: To me, he’s the same. It wouldn’t work without him. He’s my other half. He’s the best father, the best provider. [Puts her hand on his shoulder.] And encourager.

He’s a big ear because I can talk. You kinda noticed! But I talk, and he’s always listening.

WACOAN: Well, I really appreciate your taking time to talk with me when you don’t have much spare time.

Raquel: I was like, ‘Why us? We’re simple people. We don’t have much to offer.’

We have nothing to do but get ready for tomorrow. Friday evenings is our one evening off. We go, go, go every other day, Monday through Thursday. All weekend, it’s soccer and church.

I’m hoping that for Mother’s Day [Axel] is playing soccer because that would mean they had won the day before and advanced in the tournament.

[Editor’s note: Axel’s team lost 3-1, but the Sanchezes managed to make it to the second half of Aaron’s game, and he scored three goals.]

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