Notes from the October 2018 Border Delegation
October 30 – November 4, 2018
Vicki Schmidt, Opening Border facilitator, partnered with Fr Bob Mosher, a Columban priest and host from the Columban Mission Center in El Paso, TX. Together they provided spiritual guidance and political understanding of the immigration crisis to Alice Anderson, Sherry Bruckner, Beth Crawford, Jenny LeBas, Janna Lindoo, Bonnie Miller & Louis Underbakke. It was a heartfelt, painful, loving, unforgettable experience. The group was primarily from Alexandria, MN with friends from Colorado and Iowa.
The sounds of child crying filled the hallway, and one could only wonder how many tears she’s cried over the past month in a variety of new and unfamiliar places between Guatemala and El Paso, Texas, including about nine days in a detention center. For an evening or two the Columban Mission Center (CMC), our home base and accommodations for the trip, surrounded her family in community, providing food, shelter, support, and love. Although the small child may not remember most of what she has experienced thus far, will she carry that love of this community in her heart? Will her next community love and care for her family with similar grace and love? Will it be a welcoming community?
What are this group’s hopes and expectations and thoughts about this week?
- Open hearts for refugees may be easier than for the people who do not welcome those entering the U.S.
- Our God is a God of abundance
- All are children of God, including people with guns and people without guns.
- Do we and will we see the fullness of each child of God?
We took the Stanton Street Bridge (1 of 4 connecting El Paso to Juarez). It costs $3.50 to drive across the bridge (money collected on the U.S. side) and fifty cents to walk. A pink cross full of nails stands at the Juarez border in honor and memory of the women missing and murdered.
During the drive, we learned 1) Patrols began formation in response to U.S. prohibition to prevent alcohol from illegally entering the U.S., 2) When a chapel was being built in recent years with funds from Australia, FOX news reported that it was an ISIS training camp, and 3) The starting wage for assembly plant worker is $53/week, which requires at least two adults in the home to work to support their family. Motorola, Nike, Adidas, and Fox con (computer co) receive parts from Mexican labor at these very low wage rates.
We traveled to the westernmost section of Juarez, Rancho Anapra, to visit Good Shepherd and Santo Nina de Atocha clinic.
Good Shepherd La Bibliotheca de Enfant
We began our day in Juarez with the visit to Bibliotheca Enfant down a dusty track on the edge of the city. Cristina Estrada greeted us with open arms, a motherly hug and modestly showed us the school she provides for the poorest of the poor. Equipped with a 3rd grade education, Cristina provided for her family as a skilled welder for 22 years. When an accident at work melted her plastic gloves into her hands, she was out of work with expensive medical bills to pay. Father Bill discovered bandages on Cristina’s hands as she lived nearby him. While soldering at an assembly plant, she was badly burned. Her employer, which assembled parts for a major U.S. company, misrepresented the papers she was signing. She believed she would be paid for her lost work, but instead received no compensation, no help with medical costs, and lost her job. Two volunteers from Arizona offered a number of workbooks for Cristina to use to work with children out of a church. She refused the offer. After being told she could work with the children anywhere she wished and could have the books, she began la biblioteca right in her home in approximately 1998 with twelve students. Eventually, money was procured for an independent space across the street from her home, which remains the site today. Cristina most needs money for inscription fees and other familial needs. While education is free, you must have a birth certificate to enter school. Children who are born at home with the help of a midwife often do not have birth certificates. They are also needed for health care. Cristina/Good Shepherd assists families in getting those birth certificates, as well as medications, and paying required inscription fees to attend public school. She told a story of people asking her to drive to El Paso to collect two boxes of donations, which proved to be used items, often worthless.
Although she was not a church-goer, her local church stepped up to help. An American couple at her church were moving back and gave Cristina 20 books, suggesting she loan them out. She began lending the books to local children, then reading to them as neither they nor their parents could read. These children needed to go to school Many couldn’t be registered for school as they lacked certificates so she began to tackle the laborious bureaucratic labyrinth. With the help of their priest, Fr Bill, she raised money to open her school & set herself to convincing parents of the value of education for children whose labor was needed to put food on the family table. She provides both breakfast & lunch with donated food. Hungry children cannot concentrate. Her school has outgrown her home as attendance grew from 12- to 150 students. Fifty-two of Cristina’s students have now graduated from University, and are now doctors, lawyers, professors, psychologists and engineers who regularly return to share their knowledge. Their proud graduation pictures painted the walls!
Inspired by Jenny’s idea, we went to Costco and Target to buy school supplies for Cristina’s Bibliotheca for Enfant and later in the week we delivered 1 of 3 boxes, being careful not to raise suspicions at the border crossing with delivering all 3 in one trip.
Santo Nino de Atocha Clinic
The sense of community at the clinic and support among the families at the clinic was palpable and beautiful. The Sisters sought to create a sense of community, and opportunity for self-sufficiency, by teaching mothers to care for their children with special needs on their own. However, the primary goal of the sisters was to create a sense of community. The Sisters had a clinic in El Paso with such a demand that they had no intention of opening a clinic in Juarez. Neuromuscular movement therapy and Reiki were offered in the small home of Father Bill. Eventually, Father Bill relocated to another small home and a generous funder allowed an extensive addition to be added on to Fr. Bill’s former home, and expand to more than triple its size, which would be a very small clinic by U.S. standards. The Sisters created a place that is parent led. All of the children have special needs, and the clinic is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of one week and Monday and Wednesday of the next. Reina (queen in Spanish), began working with the clinic at the age of 18 months and now at the age of 9 attends a regular school most days, and the clinic on Tuesdays for special tutoring.
The children celebrated Halloween on Tuesday with the planning of their mothers. The joy in their faces, and the general feeling of love and support among the families and clinic volunteers, brought smiles to their faces.
Next door a Holy Child of Atocha clinic cares for special needs children from birth to age 26. As we approached sounds of merriment filled our ears. The Sisters of Charity, one a nurse and the other a doctor with specialty in neuromuscular therapy, side by side with the parents provide breakfast, lunch, physical therapy and lashings of love to these severely challenged children. The sisters, with the parents as their partners, provide neuromuscular therapy to children with physical disabilities. On this day they were all dressed in costume & having a joyous time, singing, dancing, being rocked or rolled to the music. These people are happy, loving and loved. It was a healing atmosphere, bringing relief & joy to profoundly disabled children and their families.
Our final stop was the law office in the Cehlider Building in Juarez. We met the Hummingbird, as she is known to her Facebook friends! Her real name is Liz Calibri, a human rights lawyer in Juarez. Liz specializes in LGBT rights and discussed the trials and tribulations that she and her colleagues weaved and winded through in the constantly changing legal and political landscape. In February 2013, Juarez’s first same sex marriage took place via trial. Liz is concerned that stiffening attitudes in the US may be copied in Mexico.
Father Bob’s 65th Birthday
We decided to celebrate Father Bob’s birthday at the Kentucky Bar which claims to have invented the margarita when they were forced to flee prohibition in their home state. They brought with them a beautiful bar imported from Paris. It is a very stylish place in a less than stylish location. Great fun! Dinner in an authentic taco joint completed our day.
Customs & Border Protection
We traveled to the International Fence in Anapra, New Mexico located in the Chihuahua Desert. We met several Border Patrol (BP) agents including a K-9 unit at a newly built portion of the dividing wall. Sitting outside within a few feet from the metal columned fence we wondered what we’d hear from the agents who were experienced immigration enforcers.
We set out our chairs in a circle and were soon joined by three border patrol agents who explained their role in the interruption of smuggling, drugs and illegal immigrants trying to enter the US. They patrol large areas in uncomfortable conditions, doing their best to protect the country they love, at some risk to themselves and stress on their families. They have the highest rate of suicide of any US agency. Agents feel their role is confused with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) who operates detention centers. What they want most is realistic immigration reform and more personnel. There was $22 million spent on building approximately four miles of the wall. We wondered what difference it would have made if that money had been spent improving conditions in Guatemala?
Carlos Antunez, the first to speak, grew up in El Paso after his grandmother brought him over as a child. He joined the military after high school and then the BP in 2004. Renee Austin, the K-9 officer, often works the checkpoints because the dog’s purpose is for immigration (concealed humans) and narcotics, sniffing vehicles so in the event the dog alerts an officer, he can search without a warrant. The dogs, special breed (Belgian Milinois), are required to pass seven specific tests before becoming part of a K-9 unit. Each dog costs the government $6500-8000. Tom Swigger moved to El Paso in 2007 after having been a probation officer and teacher. Maureen Mortenson, a civilian BP employee whose role is community liaison, doesn’t carry a gun. Another unnamed agent was present but occupied with a community member who crossed the border, went through a gate a short distance from our group setting.
The agents told us the helicopter that we saw hovering was from the Office of Air and Marine. There are also water and land border points with the water border in El Paso and the land in New Mexico. El Paso was the first in the nation to build a wall in 1924. There are horse, bike and ATV units as well.
Companies nationwide can bid on building the wall. Upon completion a 4-mile wall with cameras and sensors can cost $22 million. The wall is designed to buy more time for the BP to apprehend illegal entries.
One agent described an incident describing an undocumented person trying to cross in AZ dropped a cement block down on the head of his fellow agent. That agent was injured very seriously. That particular portion of the wall was not at all transparent so agents were unable to see what was happening. He made the point that agents like the column-type wall versus a solid wall so they can see if the people have guns or other weapons.
No one is allowed to cross the border except at the ports of entry. In the event of an apprehension, the first rule of thumb is to ensure the BP’s safety. Secondly, they provide temporary holding, even offering help from their own personal finances in form of humanitarian relief (meals, hydration, medical) and finally they’ll release those they apprehend to another agency for processing. Securing the border costs $60 million annually. Again, could this money be better spent?
At this particular point on the border, the agents feel that the wall has been beneficial to the Mexican community. Prior to the column-type wall, a chain-link fence was easy access for the crime/cartel to circulate drugs and guns throughout the US in this community. After the present wall was constructed, the cartel left the community and subsequently, the community has a school. So the agents feel that good things started to happen.
The agents want immigration reform, i.e., more agents on the ground. Right now they are understaffed with 18,000, whereas 21,000 are allotted by law. They’d also like to see more visas for jobs, for asylum seekers and the Dreamers.
There are basically two types of people that want to cross the border illegally: 1) those who seek a better life and 2) criminals. Ten-20% apprehended are US citizens who are criminals and have already been in the US. If the apprehended don’t have documents, agents have no proof of who they are. The recent separated families have not had documents. If the adult arrives with a criminal record, the families will get separated. DNA tests will provide proof of who belongs to whom. Children will not go to jail however. And the agents made the point that they have no discretion in this matter. The first entry is a misdemeanor, the second a felony. This constitutes 10-20% of the people identified as criminals.
It is required in their training to be bilingual. When asked about the challenges of the job, agents said they work long hours, often alone, in remote areas and people don’t like the uniform so they aren’t welcomed in many public settings. Losing a partner (on-duty deaths) is one of the most difficult parts of the job. In addition, seeing unhealthy children and wanting to help, missing family events, thinking about issues at home especially when working alone, being seen as the enemy and having their families threatened are difficult job-related challenges. There has been an investment in peer assistance programming (chaplaincy, counseling, etc.) that provides emotional relief. The agents feel the media coverage generally doesn’t help their situation.
They didn’t feel the election of Trump has made much difference in their job. The border is just a pathway for the criminals – most of them go into the interior of US if they are not caught.
Migrant Workers Center
Founder Carlos Marentes explained the history of migrant workers. In the 1940s there was a huge migration (5 million) to the cities. This migration was due largely to supply workers for the food industry. At that time, migrants entering the country were sprayed with DDT. Many US people and agencies considered the migrants unclean, and feared spread of infections and diseases, but the migrants were needed. Today the culture is different and although the migrants are not sprayed down with DDT anymore, migrants remain undervalued.
The purpose of the center is to give dignity to the farm workers, providing hospitality and a place to rest for both documented and undocumented workers, 80% of whom are Mexican. This is not a shelter. Carlos showed us around the building that took ten years of discussions with the city to come to fruition. The building contains many symbols of Mexican culture with bright colors of earth, elements of the Mexican farm culture and flags of countries. The center has a clinic and offers basic Mexican education. Workers get on the buses in the middle of the night in order to arrive at daybreak where they pick produce, fill baskets, and run to the truck which never stops moving. They empty the basket for which they are paid 75 cents in order to earn $7.50/hour. They’d need to fill 70 buckets/day to earn $7000 annually. At this center Carlos provides showers and shelter for these powerless workers who are not allowed to unionize. Some migrants look for better work and may move north to find it. Those in the North earn double what they do in the South. One-third of the workers are women and the average education is four years. Since migrants are not covered by the Labor Relations Act of 1942 they are consequently paid half of what the US workers earn for the same labor.
That evening, we returned to the mission to prepare ham sandwiches for our refugees, take them to the bus station, and tearfully wish them luck. They were sent off to family members waiting in San Francisco. A few hours later, we saw another family off to Naples FL.
Father Peter, a Carmelite Priest and Betty, a Sister of Mercy, live in the poorest of neighborhoods in Rancho Anapra, Juarez. Their philosophy, learned from many years of doing mission work, is to determine directly from the people what they need, not to impose projects from the outside.
Twenty years ago, their neighbor was being beaten by her husband in the street. So Peter and Betty began using their home as a shelter for victims of domestic violence. Betty facilitated the counseling sessions. These sessions have continued and evolved into discussions of global issues( eg. climate change).
Peter and Betty talked to the group about the current economic conditions for the poor in Juarez. Many work in the maquiladoras (assembly plants that, for the most part, offer wages that do nothing to improve the economic state of the family.) In most families both mother and father need to work to support their children and still cannot meet the cost of basic necessities.
Peter focuses on trade relations between Mexico and the US, especially how debt impacts the countries. Debt creates unemployment and tension. Cheap labor in the maquiladoras (assembly plants) results from the trade relations. In 1994, NAFTA favored big money in Mexico. Many workers migrated north because tariffs were lowered and corn and soybeans were cheaper in the US. Bribes, a tradition in Mexico, are still used by the Narco (drug dealers) and big money. The government now wants to decriminalize marijuana and opium so it could control the drugs. The poor would pick the crops so their income would increase if drugs are legalized. At some point the government started using the army to police, causing violence to spike. With 40% of Mexican people without education and/or jobs, kids are a likely target for the cartel who invite them into a gang, thus creating more violence.
Unfortunately US most often sends aid in the form of police and military instead of social reform (education, jobs, social). If US would change this policy, it could also help El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Two of Mexico’s many political group include PRE and PAN. During a 6 -year period with PRE in control, 20,000 people disappeared and 100,000 were killed. The MORENA party will begin controlling the government in January and is neither PRE nor PAN. The Mexicans have hope that the new party will be more just.
In 2008 the violence in Juarez skyrocketed, because the government of Mexico began using military as police officers. They were not trained as police officers and were treating the poor of Mexico as the enemy. Since 2008 there have been 240,000 reported killings and 30,000 people reported missing. Many people migrate north in an attempt to escape the violence. Each year approximately 450 people die in the process. Over the years Betty has compiled the names of all of the people who have died and gone missing. The emphasis is on those who were victims of injustice, such as the hundreds of Mexican journalists that have been murdered by criminal organizations in recent years. Peter and Betty feel that a great deal of the current situation is due in part to foreign influences that focus efforts on military, police and security organizations, largely ignoring social issues such as education, health care and jobs that provide an opportunity for a living wage.
Peter and Betty provide scholarships for five students at the university. At ages 95 and 84, they remain active, caring and supportive of others.
Annual Border Mass
A mass was held on Saturday morning at the Anapra border outside El Paso where we’d previously met with the Border Patrol. Permission had been granted to open the gate just enough for the bishops to share the communion host on both sides. Native American dancers drummed as the congregation gathered. Young families, older folk, nuns from all over the globe. We met people from all over the world. It was a beautiful morning, warm and sunny. Children played in the sand as the service began. English and Spanish liturgy – beautiful. Somehow we were not surprised when an executive order came and the gate in the wall remained closed. We were told that a horde of Guatemalans were going to storm the gate. The chalices wouldn’t fit between the bars so the bishops dipped their wafers in the wine and passed them through to each other. The passing of the peace was amazing. Hands reached through from each side to join as one and we ignored the helicopter and drone overhead.
Cristo Rey Medical & Dental Clinic
Not far away, Dr San Juana Medoza, general practitioner and midwife, who gave up a lucrative hospital practice in the US, now manages an affordable clinic for the poor. She shared time with us, explaining the realities of health for poorly housed and badly fed people who work from 4 am-7 pm making components for the cars and household machines sold in our country. Two premier goals of the clinic are prevention and education. The clinic has recently started a hospice program because the concept of hiring a caretaker for the terminally ill is foreign to the Mexican culture. Another focus of Dr. Mendoza’s practice is to promote intellectual and social interaction skills for children through games and activities.
No one without a birth certificate can receive government provided education, employment or medical care. Dr. Mendoza’s clinic, on the contrary, does not require a birth certificate for treatment. Her fee for an office visit is 30 pesos (just under $2) for those who can pay.
In Mexico, maternity leave is 3 months (1 ½ months before and 1 ½ months after the birth). During this time the mother receives a compensation of $30 a week. Part of the education program of the clinic is to provide menus and nutrition information, as 44% of the population of Rancho Anapra has diabetes. Each office visit includes a blood pressure reading and glucose testing.
Cristo Rey Catholic Church
Cristo Rey is the main church in Rancho Anapra. Fr. Bill Morton, like Betty and Peter, lives and serves this very poor area of Juarez. One of his former homes now houses the Santo Nino de Atocha Clinic for Children with Special Needs. Our conversation included the origins of the Columban priesthood, his concerns with the military serving as patrol officers, the large number of asylum seekers being treated as criminals and the overall conditions under which the poor people of Mexico are living. He spoke of the Catholic Church being in the hands of the rich in Mexico. He explained that the smaller farmers are stripped of any profit since they only grow one crop, thus contributing to the country’s poverty. He was appreciatively outspoken, a brave activist for the poor.
Festival for Dias de Muerto (Day of the Dead) at the Cemetery
Our final stop was at an enormous cemetery on the top of a high hill. It was the Day of the Dead. We walked among local people picnicking, cleaning and decorating around the monuments. They had placed personal mementos, pictures and flowers, things the deceased loved during their lifetime. One man poured a glass of wine.
After returning to the mission center, we practiced the culture of the Day of the Dead, where we too placed a picture of our loved ones on our own decorated altar. Later we shared what our loved ones meant to us. That evening we watched the Disney animated film “Coco”, the story of an aspiring young musician, Miguel, who embarks on an extraordinary journey to the magical land of his ancestors.
We stopped @ McDonald’s to purchase 20 cups of coffee and took them to the bridge with some peanut butter sandwiches and sweet breads. We handed them out with blessings to those who had slept on the bridge, waiting to claim asylum. Fr Bob and Vicki questioned the BP about refusing to let refugees/asylum seekers through and why rules are different from 2014. Their answer: 1) there’s not enough room, 2) it’s not healthy/sanitary in the holding cells and they said to talk to administration in Washington DC. We countered with “is this healthy?” meaning being overnight on the bridge for days. Vicki asked if she could bring a woman across the bridge with her baby. Answer: “no”. We sang ‘We Shall Overcome’ and prayed the Lord’s Prayer. We wished we could do more.
Diocese of Migrant and Refugee Services
Anna Hayes, deputy director, presented information on this service that provides high quality free and low-cost immigration legal services in West Texas and southern New Mexico, advocating for human/immigration rights consistent with Catholic teachings. It’s the largest provider in the country for such services, taking refugees from detention to court. Unaccompanied children or one parent arriving with a child can get services. Anna spoke of the current largest shelter, a tent city 40 miles away in Torino that houses 1300 people, mostly teens. It’s there where staff can’t show affection to minors if they are not accompanied by a known adult. 33,000 pass through the immigration services and only 160 immigrants were served last year due to lack of staffing. Orientation handouts are given, helpful for addressing their circumstances, so refugees will feel more confident representing themselves before a judge. But under due process, if they don’t qualify from the onset, they will be deported, saving judge’s time, ultimately reducing wait time for everyone. It’s an advantage to understand the process better. Anna’s frustration was that no one in Congress is seriously addressing reform and it’s been needed since the 1990’s. Our immigration laws are even more complicated than our tax laws and can’t be maneuvered without an attorney. For people without funds, the process of applying for asylum is very difficult, very lengthy and very costly. To quote Anna, “Everything is $1000.” For a list of low-cost providers, see Executive Office of Immigration Reform (EOIR)
Anna passed out the ‘Why Don’t They Get In Line?’ article. The waiting period is astonishingly long. US officials who at one point processed 300 applications/day are now processing 15/day. What struck us most was a scenario shared of a US citizen/mother trying to get her Mexican daughter into the US. There’s a 22-year waiting period to just get her case heard. American Anna herself is an anchor baby, i.e., one born in the US of an undocumented refugee. Her mother was smuggled in a car across the border. Her father, an American serviceman, died without submitting application for his wife. However, Anna is a natural-born American citizen.
A question was posed from our group about the current caravan walking north from Guatemala. Anna explained there are thousands of people who are fleeing from unspeakable situations where their lands have been stolen. Good officers of ICE & BP are retiring and bad officers are emboldened by the caravan experience.
Previously Vicki mailed & Homeland Security (HS) accepted passport pictures and driver’s licenses, and yet we had to leave our passports at the Dept of Homeland Security’s front desk. Fr Bob was actually surprised we were allowed into the detention center. We entered a prison-like environment, walking past double-barbed wire high chain-link fences. Accompanied by two priests & two laywomen, we entered the dining hall for mass. Male refugee inmates came in orange, blue & red uniforms accompanied by HS guards, again reminding us of being in a prison although we never felt intimidated or threatened in any way. We sat with the refugees who wore blue uniforms because their only ‘crime’ was entering the US at an illegal checkpoint. The red uniforms were deemed the most dangerous, but we also know entering two or more times at an illegal checkpoint is a felony. One of the laywomen who was accompanying the priests exclaimed ‘No one is dangerous here.’ One male refugee played guitar throughout the Spanish speaking service. It was very emotional, passing the peace, giving out rosaries to those who wanted one. Several took communion, letting the peace just pass over all of us. After the men left, women came in to worship in an identical service which proved to be even more emotional. The women present were older than the men at the previous service. Being surrounded by the refugee inmates, it made us wonder what their desperate stories were. Actually every time we encountered a refugee, we wondered the same.
This shelter exists for refugees who have nowhere else to go, don’t know anyone in the US and have no options. It’s not a homeless shelter. There’s a team of only five volunteers serving the 20-30 refugees that typically stay for 2-3 days. Some stay indefinitely depending on finding someone in the US who will sponsor them. An undocumented guest who is staying indefinitely is assigned a contact volunteer. There has been an outpouring of generosity to the point where staff find it problematic. We thought they needed someone with organizational skills to build shelves! The guest/refugees themselves cook 3 meals/day. All the food is donated or they buy food with donated money. The facility has a dining hall, a gathering place, a chapel, clothing store, food storage area, and women & men’s dorms. There are 2 functioning Annunciation Houses in El Paso, one where Ruben Garcia is administrator and the chief contact liaison between ICE & the shelters. There’s a second space for meetings and respite for the volunteers. There’s also an Annunciation House in Juarez. AH has a good reputation in the city and isn’t under threat of a raid. It got its name when Mother Teresa told Ruben Garcia to reach out to those around him versus going to India with her.
Residents of the Annunciation House were invited to dinner that evening. Back at the mission house, we got to work setting tables in preparation for our guests’ arrival. We were so impressed by these people. They have nothing. They have walked for miles, sustained by nothing but hope. Carrying young children they shake our hands warmly, smile sweetly, pray faithfully, line up quietly and eat with beautiful manners. Guests were amazed when invited to have seconds. They all said por favor and gracias. The people we met are lovely gracious people.
Day of Dead Altars in Barrio Durangito
This section of El Paso was condemned by the city, but people felt stronger about its historic value and wanted to keep it intact. Unfortunately bulldozers did extensive irreparable damage to a few building and the situation is still in the courts. We visited an outdoor celebration where there was music, some booths and indoors where there were many interesting and elaborate altars remembering and celebrating the dead.
Cristo Rey Lutheran Church
Pastor Rose Mary Guzman Sanchez serves this congregation of 60-75 mostly undocumented people. We worshipped simultaneously in Spanish & English, after which we enjoyed a meal with everyone who attended the worship service. After the meal, we prepared the facility for Tuesday’s refugees, making up triple-decker bunk beds and cleaning the floors. During this time, some returned to the Columban Mission Center to prepare the soup for the 150 refugees at Holy Family’s Centro San Juan Diego Center.
We took our soup, ordered pizza and brought all food to Holy Family Church in El Paso. What started with an estimate of 100, then 70 to serve ended up to be 150. Numbers are always in flux. The very last refugee served received the very last bowl of soup – miraculous!
Our Last Morning Together
Our group gathered one last time for First Word, reflection and an evaluation. On our way to the airport, we made a brief stop at the Women’s Cooperative of Hope and Faith where items made by Mexican women are sold to raise money for their families. We also toured the inspiring artful symbolism on the highway stanchions said a quick goodbye to our parting comrades.
Leaving our meaningful experience, we know the Holy Spirit will guide us in spreading this new-found information about the plight of the refugees in our country. This experience has filled our hearts. We are headed home, with pain, more understanding and gratitude for the poor and those who help them, promising to not forget.