Here are some of the reflections from our VIM team that worked at the TX/MX border last week. There are more reflections from the team on the bulletin board by the sanctuary doors.
Making the decision to go on this mission trip was a real leap of faith for me and took me way out of my comfort zone. But any trepidation I felt pales in comparison to how the asylum seekers must feel. Fortunately for me, I was met with love and acceptance that quickly made me feel cared for and valued. I hope and pray that our efforts this past week have helped impart those same feelings to the people we encountered and help them continue on their journeys with a little less fear and discomfort.
The Rio Grande river was the focal point of our trip in many ways. We were there to help alleviate suffering of migrants crossing the river - which is the the boundary marking the division between Mexico and the USA. These people were desperate and hopeful for a better life. We met families from El Salvador, Nicaragua , Guatemala, Cuba, Cameroon, Venezuela, and Ecuador who had crossed the Rio Grande by swimming across illegally or by waiting weeks to months to cross across a bridge legally.
My heart continues to ache for the hundreds of families we saw who risked so much to seek safety for their children. My hardest moment was when a young dad who had been in a clothing line for a long time holding his sleeping child broke down in tears, and I realized that my first reaction of offering to hold her would most likely frighten him. A happy realization was that groups from across the country, especially church youth groups, were sending teams to help. The youth were energized, compassionate and spoke Spanish!
"Generally speaking, if you want to know who you really are, as distinct from who you like to think you are, keep an eye on where your feet take you." (Frederick Buechner)
Well, this is where my thoughts are today. We are a wealthy people, living in a wealthy nation, and we are called to be servant people so it is a natural consequence that we are not an "America First Nation, " but by our faith are a "Humanity First Nation" and I experienced that whole-heartedly on this trip. The eyes of asylum seekers looked into my soul and became a part of me. Thus, we were/are one under God and I lived that oneness in McAllen.
What I learned today: The process for detention and release of migrants is not consistent. First, they are put in what has come to be known as the "ICE box". The temperature is kept at 56 degrees for about 2 days. They are told that it is to prevent illness. After that, they are put in an area with fences that has come to be known as, roughly translated, "dog pound" "because we are treated like animals". They are fed stale bologna sandwiches three times per day which are often moldy. They are told to, "flip it over and eat it" They are often moved back and forth between these two settings until their eventual release or deportation.
After our long, but oh so rewarding trip.
We’re tired. We’re home.
We’re with our children. We’re with our families.
The people we met are loving, and kind.
They are tired. They want to be home.
They want to be with their children.
They want to be with their families.
They want to feel safe.
There will be more to share in the coming weeks. Thanks for being with us in spirit. Jeannie
Posted on Wed, July 3, 2019
by Brenda Wheelock