DioMass Youth Ministry


view:  full / summary

Final Reflections: Alison

Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 15, 2017 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I will remember this week forever. We met so many selfless and hospitable people this week. What stood out to me most was the number of truly selfless and giving people that we met this week. The Reverend Ernie and the congregation of St. Andrew’s welcomed us as soon as we arrived on Friday night with delicious authentic Mexican food, and they were so open in telling their stories to us during the forum after the service on Sunday. Ricky guided us through Nogales, Sonora in Mexico and introduced us to the people of HEPAC, and brought us to the Juan Bosco Migrant Shelter to hear from the founder about his work and listen to the stories of the migrants firsthand. Roger planned a full day of activities and meetings for us in Nogales Arizona at a moment’s notice when the weather prevented our hike. These people, along with others, were determined to give us the best trip possible, and their generosity and hospitality really showed. They made us feel comfortable even in a place we had never been before, enriched our experiences, and greatly enhanced our understanding of the issues we were learning about.

This week Father Sean Carroll from the Kino Border Initiative visited St. Andrew’s to give the sermon. He talked about opening the eyes of our hearts to see God’s light in the people we meet. Often, the time when God can truly come through us is when we are most vulnerable. When I met with the migrants at Juan Bosco I didn’t just hear the pain in their voices or see the tears in their eyes, but I felt their stories in my heart. And when I think of their faces again I get that same pain in my chest that I got in that moment. That is a true connection, a connection made by God between them and myself. Sometimes that can be hard to do, to truly live with our hearts open. But when we do, we offer ourselves whole-heartedly to others, that connection can be made. And when you exchange a piece of your heart with another, it makes you stronger, it fills you with more love.]

In addition to the new people whom I’ve met and learned from, I’ve also grown to share my heart with the rest of my YLA companions. Since I met them last summer they’ve become some of my favorite people to be around. Going on this important trip has only strengthened that connection because our hearts have been opened to everyone around us, including each other. Being vulnerable can be scary, but the reward is well worth it.

Seeing with my own eyes the complicated and painful issues surrounding the border has made me feel the need to take action and help in some way. When I get back to Acton, I want to share the stories told by the people we met, as well as my observations and opinions on what I have experienced in the past week. I also want to investigate further some of the topics I learned about this week, including the Tohono O’odham tribe and the U.S. immigration laws. I will continue to encourage education about these topics as well as encourage conversation for how the situation can be improved. Lastly, I want to continue traveling to new places to learn about the culture and the people. I’ll find new challenges, of course, but like this week I’ll also realize similarities between all people, no matter what background we come from or what race we are.

- Alison, Church of the Good Shepherd, Acton

Final Reflections: Autumn

Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 15, 2017 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

During our short week in Arizona/Mexico I have learned so much. The experiences I have had this week opened the eyes of my heart and mind and have touched me in many ways. Leaving this trip I want to take the stories from the migrants and others home with me. One moment that really meant a lot to me was visiting the Juan Bosco migrant shelter in Nogales Mexico. There we heard the stories of three boys who wanted to cross the border or have tried to cross the border for a better life and to escape violence in their country. One of the young boys tried crossed the border and tried to cross the desert, but when one of the group members got injured he decided to stay back with him instead of leaving him behind like the rest did. As he ran out of water and was severely dehydrated he decided to go out to the road and turn himself in to the border patrol. Where we are from, we don’t hear about what actually happens out on the border; we stay ignorant and just believe anything the media tells us. With hearing this story and the many others I want to inform as many people at home about what is really happening at the border. People need to know these migrants are not illegal. No human is illegal, they are human. These are fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers, friends, and family. The migrants come for work or education, or are fleeing from their country. These are good people who just want the best for their family.

We also talked to border patrol officers. At first I wanted to hate them because they are arresting these innocent people, but I realized they are not the problem, the law is. They are just enforcing the law, and they actually save a lot of migrant lives out in the desert. I still think the way they go about their job could be different and maybe some could go about it in a less brutal way. For example we passed by the spot where Jose Antonio was shot to death by border patrol officers. The issue is that Jose was an innocent boy walking down the street at night in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, while the Border Patrol officers were from the USA, and were shooting into Mexico from the US side. This really touched me because it showed the brutal side of the border patrol. I want to inform the people around me about this because it did not get a lot of publicity like it should have. I personally believe the Border Patrol just want to protect us from dangerous people, but they have to learn that Mexican does not equal bad.

With these stories in experiences fresh in my mind I want to share these stories in honor of these migrants. I want friends and family to be aware of the actual situation, and to not oppress and stereotype because of what media tells us. I want people to realize these are humans, and that if we open the eyes of our hearts we can see that.

- Autumn, Grace Church, New Bedford

Final Reflections: Claire

Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 15, 2017 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Even before our trip started, we were told to listen to the stories and take what we have learned from the people back to our churches and communities and tell their stories. Throughout the week, there were several stories that stuck out with me, and I will be keeping and sharing along my travels. We have heard how media plays a role in the misinterpretation of the problem at the border, both with border patrol and with the immigrants themselves. We also heard stories of times maybe fifty to sixty years ago that affected a large part of our society as a whole.  For example, we came across Sigrid Martrejean, who ran a small museum in Nogales. In the time she worked as a Foreign Service officer, there was a lot of discrimination against women. In one of her interviews to get a job, the officers that interviewed her said they would have hired her if she were a man. This stuck with me because we can see through this how much society has changed and now, for the most part, people are not hired for their gender, but for their expertise.

Our experience as a whole has been fun and educational. Our already tight group became even tighter with every day. Even though we spent a week with each other at camp last summer, we have shared our views and experiences that maybe we were not able to express before. I will miss the memories made and the stories heard.

- Claire, Grace Church, New Bedford

Final Reflections: Emily

Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 15, 2017 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

In leaving from the mission trip to Arizona and Mexico with YLA, I am taking back with me confirmation that undocumented migrants are still genuine human beings who deserve love and listening. I discovered this confirmation in talking to and feeding the migrants. Hearing their stories- where the people told me they had families at home worrying about them, they wanted to be better people, or that they had not slept in a long time- really inspired me to want to help. Especially stories where migrants were leaving their homes because of violence moved me, since I cannot imagine it. The looks of thanks I got while passing plates to the people of the Kino Border Initiaitve comeador showed me that these people are not the aliens some media make them to be. To spread the message that these migrants are caring humans who deserve our help, I will have conversations with people at my church. Specifically, I will talk to other youth or adults at my church who show that they have a differing opinion of the migrants. I will also make the habit of starting these conversations with friends, family, and whomever I come across about this very recent problem. With the people in my community starting conversation and working together, we will bring justice to the migrants.

- Emily, St. Paul's, Lynnfield

Final Reflections: Jenna

Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 15, 2017 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

I learned so much from this trip. I came here thinking we would talk to two sides of one argument. But, we talked to more groups than I can count and there is not one issue, but several. One of my take-aways from this week is that there is a good and bad to every side of an argument. All the people we met have their own struggles and their way of solving them is not black or white. I think before the trip I had a much more negative view on the whole situation. This is mostly due to the media. The media's job is to tell a good story. A story about drug smugglers or border patrol agents shooting innocents is a “better story” than the agents that save people from the dessert, or the ones bringing water into the desert for migrants, or the migrants crossing the border to get a better job so that the can pay for their child’s schooling. Now that I have talked to many people down here about their story and what they think is the issue that needs to be fixed, I think I am more confused and conflicted than when I started.

The problem at the border is a lot more complex than I could have imagined. The hardest part for me to grasp is that all the people we met are the “good” people. It’s hard for me to not be able to say with certainty who are the “good guys” and who are the “bad guys”. Each side has some good and some bad. We talked to the migrants that are trying to cross the border to start a new life, or make enough money to support their family. At the same time, there are the drug smugglers, Cartels, and the bandits. There is no way to group all these people into one group because they are polar opposites. It’s the same with all groups of people. People are grouped together because of a single similarity, that does not make them all the same. Just like the border patrol, some go into the desert and save people from dehydration and death, but there is also the officer(s) that shot the innocent Jose Antonio. Every group of people has some that have made the wrong decisions.

I have come to the conclusion that the people are not in the wrong, none of them, even though some are misguided. The real issue is the law. The laws are so broken that people have to disobey them to do the right thing or to have a better life. A person shouldn’t have to risk their life just to get a job that pays minimum wage. Their other option is to wait up to 25 years to get a visa that isn’t even guaranteed to get them across the border.

When I get home I am going to have a discussion with my Legal and Protective Services class to figure out what we can do to help fix these broken laws. My hope is that as a united group that all have strong knowledge of the legal system, that we can take small steps towards fixing the border issue so that we no longer have to live separate from our brothers and sisters in Mexico.

- Jenna, St. Paul's, Natick

Final Reflections: Libby

Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 15, 2017 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

From this YLA mission trip, I will take away the new understanding of how the border is much more complicated than I thought. As I listened to the many stories at the migrant shelter, I began to realize how much of a barrier and obstacle the border and the physical fence are and what it does to families that are simply trying to get a better life. It further confused me when the group got the chance to get a tour of the Border Patrol Station. It made me want to start doing research on Border Patrol in particular and the government in general, along with the immigration laws themselves. It was also a slap-in-the-face reminder (suggestion) to maybe watch the news longer or more often than I normally do. Listening to the stories made me want to keep asking for stories even back at home. All in all, I’m going to gather as much information as possible through the internet, people, television, and, yes, even social media so I can be aseducated as I can on such a topic as the border. Someday, it will come in handy.

- Libby, Trinity Church, Concord

Final Reflections: Val

Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 15, 2017 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

WOW!!!!! While being on the borderlands I have learned so much in our short time. We have visited many places that have opened the eyes of our hearts up to many different people. Something that has been very inspirational for me is when we met the founder of the Juan Bosco shelter in Nogales Mexico. He talked about how he started the shelter by just taking migrants into his home and then it evolved into and amazing shelter that had helped so many people. We talked to 3 boys from the shelter and each told us their story and 2 of the boys were only 17 and 19. The 19 year old boy had just been deported the day before we talked to him. He told us how he tried crossing the desert and how his friend had to be left behind because he was injured. The 17-year-old told us his story and how he had been trying to cross since the age of 13...13!!!! When I was 13 I was more worried about what grade I got on a spelling test than anything that was going on in anyone else's life. This boy had been kidnapped by smugglers and had seen his friends die along the way and had witnessed a young boy get run over by the train he was taking and had been deported many times before. He opened my mind to so much more. I think I will take back the knowledge of the stories.

We spent a day with the Rev. Canon Debbie Royals who showed us around some native  villages and reservations. I never have thought about the way the border would affect the indigenous people and their families.

I think will definitely take back the love and sheer kindness that Rev. Rodger showed all of us..Rodger was a guide for us in couple days we had with him. He hung out with us and stuck through our complaining when we were all sick, and didn't hate us when we got him sick. Rodger if you are reading this I wanted to personally say thank you from the bottom of my heart and thank you for everything. You were so sweet and even in the couple of days you were with us you have seemed like a father figure I have never had. I wanted to thank you for laughing at my piles of dirt jokes and when I got water all over me and said “oh it's wet”. I may be small but you will have a big place in my heart forever because of the graciousness you showed all of the youth leadership academy. Thank you to all of the people we met over the week who have shaped me into the person I am while leaving Arizona. I pray that everyone we met will have peace and faith in their days to come and love forever! This trip has forver changed my life and I can say that will a full heart as I'm trying not to break out in tears while writing this. This trip meant so much and I never want it to end. But I know all good things must! Love to all!!!

- Val, Christ Church, Waltham

Day Five: Phoenix

Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 11, 2017 at 1:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Most of us braved the 103 degrees to walk the labyrinth outside of Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix during our visit to this church.

Quote of the day:  “The migrants are the heroes here, the strangers in our midst who are angel in disguise.” (Gene LaFavre, No Mas Muertes, making reference to Hebrews 13:2

We started off the day in our hotel in Tucson. We then drove to Phoenix for our last day in Arizona. We visited Gene LaFavre, the founder of No Mas Muertes (No More Deaths). Our guide Ricky is a volunteer with No Mas Muertes, and introduced us to Gene. No Mas Muertes is a humanitarian aid organization that takes trips into the desert and leaves water for the migrants. The program was started because a group of people, including Gene, were upset about the amount of migrant deaths in the desert. They started three organizations, No Mas Muertes being the last one. The program was started in 2004. Gene is in his late 80’s and is still going out doing water drops! Gene talked about some of his encounters with migrants and their outstanding stories. He told us about a women with her two kids that had prayed to god for an angel and the next day Gene and two other volunteers showed up. She said that God had sent her three angels to bring her water. Gene said that he likes to think of the migrants as the real angels.

We then had lunch at a fusion sandwich restaurant. The restaurant was two blocks away from the Episcopal cathedral, Trinity. We toured the worship space and altar. There were some beautiful stain glass windows. We finished with dinner at La Piazza and ice cream at Novel. We are staying at a hostel tonight to finish the year in a place with a feeling of community and togetherness.

We look forward to getting home to our families and friends, but we will miss Las Fronteras, with its beautiful landscapes and beautiful, heroic people.