NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Family members and friends of a man who has gone missing in Cabo San Lucas haven't given up hope that he will be found safe and sound. Prayers are being lifted up on his behalf all over Nacogdoches and East Texas.
Elijah Hernandez, 26, who grew up in Nacogdoches and attended Angelina College, has been missing since Jan. 14. He was scheduled to return to the US last week following a two-month mission trip.
Teresa Hernandez, his mother, is currently in Cabo San Lucas with her husband, and one of Elijah's uncles.
"We're trying to think like Elijah thinks and to focus everything from that perspective," Teresa Hernandez said.
She said in a phone interview that the city's entire economy is based on tourism, and as a result, the area has a district attorney for tourism-related issues.
"Those police are taking it seriously, and because they're taking it seriously, the local police are taking it very seriously," Teresa Hernandez said.
By now, the Cabo Police Department and tourism, federal, navy, and harbor officials have Elijah Hernandez' photo. Even though the quick and common assumption in Mexico is that when a young man goes missing, he's run away with a woman, no one is thinking that with this particular missing person case.
On Thursday, Elijah Hernandez' family members were reaching out to local ministries to help them communicate with residents of the barrio where he had been helping residents build a church in a hurricane-stricken part of the city. It's one of the poorest parts of the city, where trust is hard to build.
"We cannot go down into this barrio area because we don't belong there," Teresa Hernandez said.
She said even her husband, who is a Mexican national can't go into the barrio to look for their son.
"They won't help us," Teresa Hernandez explained. 'They'll be afraid of us."
A Facebook post written by Teresa Hernandez Thursday afternoon stated that they have made a connection with a local church that may help them find someone who may have met or seen Elijah. Earlier Thursday, she wrote that the Cabo churches are looking at ways to get them into the Caribe area safely.
Teresa Hernandez said they are thankful for the prayers and support they've already received.
"That's the funding for all the activity that's going on here," Teresa Hernandez said. "If there's not prayer going up, then we might still be sitting in our little hotel wondering why the police aren't moving."
Elijah Hernandez was scheduled to be in Dallas on Jan. 14 to help prepare for his brother's wedding.
"He's in the wedding, and he just didn't get on the plane," said his grandmother, Sally Randolph.
Randolph said in a previous East Texas news story that it's totally out of character for her grandson not to call his family.
"All of his clothing, his laptop were still in the hotel room," Randolph said. "He had only his passport, his cell phone, and him."
He also has very little money. Hernandez's last bank withdrawal was only $20.
The Hernandez family lives in Dallas, but they maintain close ties to Nacogdoches. Churches and prayer warriors fulfill the family's spiritual requests.
"It's really a feeling of hopelessness, but we know we can have hope because we've been praying for her," said Leisha Bryant, a friend of the family.
The US consulate is attempting to track Hernandez's cell phone. Meanwhile, a worried grandmother tries to remain focused.
"Your mind can, can come up with all kinds of situations, but you have to not dwell on them," Randolph said. "You have to get back to the fact that God is still in charge and He knows where he is and He can find him if that's His will."
Cabo police, the US consulate and the office of Sen. John Cornyn's office are working together on the search.
The Hernandez family had to scrape together money to make the unplanned trip to Cabo. Donations can be made to Commercial Bank in Nacogdoches and Lufkin to the account of Teresa Hernandez.