|Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 22, 2016 at 3:00 PM||comments (0)|
As we have participated in many amazing events and have meet many hardworking people over the past week, one thing that I will be taking away is that people are passionate about their work. Berto, who works at a Migrant Resource Center in Agua Prieta, Sonora works daily to help deported immigrants figure out what they need to do and where they need to go so they don't find themselves in human trafficking or violated of their human rights. He works day and night and has helped over 72,000 migrants over the past 10 years and all in a very small two-room building. Berto works hard and helps people not have to go through the same thing he had to do when he himself came undocumented to Chicago and was deported twice.
Another thing that I hope to always remember from the trip is people's openness to welcome you into their space and their home like how Father Richard and his wife did at their home and at St. Stephen's in Douglas.
Lastly, I hope to remember the friends I made with other youth in Douglas and all the fun conversations that we had between each other.
Grace Church, Medford
|Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 22, 2016 at 2:35 PM||comments (0)|
After this amazing YLA trip to Arizona and Mexico, I am shocked and surprised about what was there, especially in the border and beyond it. There I learned the extreme troubles of migrant life. The trail of death through the desert. The splitting of family's with deportations. What we saw there was horrible.
We planted a cross in honor of a dead migrant and her unborn child. These stories I will have with me forever, cherish them and never let them die.
All Saint's, Brookline
|Posted by Sam Lovett on August 17, 2016 at 6:15 PM||comments (0)|
This post highlights several of the learning and relationship building events that YLA members undertook in early August in Arizona and Mexico. The quotations below each picture come from their own words, their final reflections about their work with various mission partners:
Agua Prieta Migrant Center
We visited a migrant center right next to the border. It was amazing to hear about how they really help migrants. It was crazy for me to hear that they have helped over 70,000 migrants and that all those people want to come to America for a better life.—Maggie
Dougla-Prieta Women's Center
After hearing his story we went to the Douglas-Prieta Women & Children's center also in Augua Prieta. There we learned about the center and how they teach all those who go there multiple skills such as knitting, sewing, and other arts and crafts. The members of the center also prepared a meal for us, which was very kind of them. After eating, we lead the children in different activities. Being able to connect with the kids through face paint and frisbee throwing was a heart warming experience.—Junnell
St. John’s Church, Bisbee
On Sunday we were fortunate enough to attend two church services. The first church was St. John's in Bisbee, Arizona and it was nice to be the one in the pew and not on the altar. The southern essence of the music was also an interesting change, since I am used to a more Caribbean beat when it comes to church songs.—Junnell
The Slaughter ranch, located a few miles outside of Douglas and past a long dirt road, was a past military base and home. The ranch was also home to some rare animals, such as snails and snakes. I enjoyed visiting the ranch due to the immense size of the property and the spectacular view from the top of a hill.—Aidan
Mural Painting the Border Wall
Coming back to Mexico on Monday to paint the border wall taught me about the power that art can have to create connections and improve bad situations. Remembering and honoring migrants who had died challenged me to really and truly consider how privileged I am to have the life that I have.—Yasmine
Border Patrol Dialogue
Meeting the border patrol was powerful to me because it reminded me that like the migrants, the border patrol are real people and their job is to keep America safe. I pray that all of the border patrol will do their jobs in a humane way and not hurt the migrants they encounter and remember that just like them, the migrants are real people.—Amanda
Dinner with Douglas, AZ High Schoolers
In Mexican tradition, anyone who enters your house is a gift.—Lukas
Pilgrimage of Remembrance
Personally, the most moving experience I had during our trip was the planting of a cross to honor a migrant woman and her unborn child, who died in the Bisbee hospital after being found in the desert. We gathered together with about a dozen other participants at St. John's church in Bisbee, and Judy brought a white cross bearing the name of the migrant and "el niño" into a small garden. The man leading the service was both a Catholic deacon and a Yacqui Indian. He was very insistent that we stand in a circle, and also that we always move clockwise around the circle, never going 'against the flow.' "We move in the same direction as the sun," he said, in order to be traveling in the same direction as the natural energy around us.—Shaw
Vigil with Frontera de Cristo
Meeting Douglas, AZ Mayor Robert Uribe
One of the stories we heard was from the mayor of Douglas, Arizona, who said that when he was younger his mother made his brother and him move because the aea of New York that they lived in had a lot of bad influences. So before her kids could get into trouble, she moved them to Arizona so that they would have a better life. Sure enough, it helped. Had he not moved to Arizona, he would not have become mayor of Douglas.—Daniel
Imago Dei Middle School
On our last full day we went to visit an organization called El Puente in Phoenix, Arizona where we learned specifically about Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I was shocked by the cruel and unusual punishment he imposed such as forcing undocumented people to stay in Tent City where the tents reach 136°F and imposes forced labor upon the women, men and children.—Elizabeth
Worship, Reflection, and the Future
I have never seen so many people have faith and fight for what they believe in and how much hatred between two countries can put a wall to separate us, or separate parents from their children. And I want to bring back those things I learned and share it with my community and hope they realize what's happening out there.—Macklyne
|Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 13, 2016 at 10:45 PM||comments (0)|
Toward the end of the YLA Mission Trip 2016, I realized that I should be more thankful for what I have because some people aren’t as lucky as I am. There are many things that I’ll take away from this trip such as the stories that people told and the cool experiences and adventures far away from home, in a place where I’d never been to. I’m glad I made the decision to join YLA.
One of the stories we heard was from the mayor of Douglas, Arizona, who said that when he was younger his mother made his brother and him move because the aea of New York that they lived in had a lot of bad influences. So before her kids could get into trouble, she moved them to Arizona so that they would have a better life. Sure enough, it helped. Had he not moved to Arizona, he would not have become mayor of Douglas.
One experience that I enjoyed, one that really moved me was a vigil that we participated in that has occurred every Tuesday evening since 2000. What we did was this: there were wooden crosses with the names on them, and each of us took several of them. Then, we lined up on the sidewalk and said the name on the cross. After we called out the name, the cross was placed on the sidewalk. The crosses represent immigrants who attempted to cross the US/Mexico border but died while they were fighting for a better life.
Throughout this whole mission trip, I have learned that not everyone lives a good life, which is why many immigrants from Mexico try to get to the US. Also, I learned that I should be more grateful for what I have because immigrants get split up from the rest of their family. This has been life changing trip that I will never forget.
St. Paul’s, Natick
|Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 13, 2016 at 5:30 PM||comments (0)|
Going on this mission trip to Arizona was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Before landing in Arizona on Friday, I had some idea of what we would be doing this week, but I never could have imagined the impact that this experience would have on me. Each new day that we spent traveling and learning had its own set of lessons, challenges, and rewards. On Saturday, our first day in Agua Prieta, Mexico, taught me not only about the terrible human rights violations that migrants can face, but also that language barriers can be overcome with laughter, music, and a lot of hand gestures. Coming back to Mexico on Monday to paint the border wall taught me about the power that art can have to create connections and improve bad situations. Remembering and honoring migrants who had died challenged me to really and truly consider how privileged I am to have the life that I have.
I can’t wait to bring these stories and all of the other stories that I have heard and experienced back to Boston. My hope is that by listening to what I and others from the group have to say, people will be affected as I have been affected. I hope that people back home will learn about the human rights violations and feel called, as I feel called, to find out how they can help put a stop to this. I hope that others will hear the story of a young woman and her unborn child who died crossing the dessert trying to find a better life, and feel as deeply sorrowful as I did when we memorialized their passing. I want people in Massachusetts to learn about the good, the bad, and the ugly of life on Las Fronteras, the border, and to want to help people in Arizona and Mexico, as I do. This was an amazing journey for me, and it is my hope that others will undertake this journey in the future, and be hanged the way I was. I am so glad I was able to go on this incredible trip, with such an amazing group of people. I will miss them and the plaes we visited together a lot.
Finally my last hope is that this is not a permanent goodbye, to either the places I went or to the people I met there, and also to the people I came to Arizona with. The only two regrets I have are that I didn’t know much Spanish and that we couldn’t stay any longer.
Church of the Holy Spirit, Mattapan
|Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 13, 2016 at 5:30 PM||comments (0)|
As part of the 2016 Youth Leadership Academy I along with the rest of the group embarked on a trip to Arizona and Mexico. This trip mainly took place in Douglas, AZ for the first 5 nights and for the last two nights we stayed in Phoenix, AZ. On Friday we went to Father Richards home, Father Richard is a very generous priest of St. Johns in Bisbee, AZ, and St. Stephens in Douglas, AZ. He showed us around Douglas, AZ and Agua Prieta, MX. The following day we were in Agua Prieta, MX and went to the Migrant Center and met with Berto. Berto runs the Migrant Center with the help of others. As we were in the Migrant Center listening to Berto tell his story the majority of the group noticed the paintings on the wall. These paintings were painted on the walls by migrants who have come to the Migrant Center. These paintings were very well done, and most of them were of trees or birds. The way I perceived these paintings were that they were free flying or ever growing they had no boundaries. I feel as if these migrants used these paintings to feel a sense of freedom, something they may not be accessible to everyday. During this trip I have come to realize all that I have taken for granted and what I am so lucky to have. I have been completely sheltered from the outside world, and it is nobody’s fault but my own. I see the news and have some sense of what is going on around me but I choose to brush it off and worry about unimportant things, such as a new fashion trend, celebrities, and even name brand items (mostly purses). While I was there some people had absolutely no family with them. And I am so lucky to have my family surrounding me, and backing me up in every way possible. As I return to Boston, MA, I take back the knowledge of all my blessings I am so lucky to have been born with in my life.
St. Paul's, Natick
|Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 13, 2016 at 5:25 PM||comments (0)|
I certainly have had the privilege to be in the 2015-2016 youth leadership academy, and I can’t think of a better way to end our time together than this mission trip. The week was amazing, and I took many things out of it. I will always remember all of the time in Mexico, especially since it was my first time outside of the United States since I was 10 months old. The migrant center, the women’s center, the people of both of Father Richard’s churches, and the hospitality will always stand out to me, however I feel like the most meaningful day for me was Tuesday, the day we went to the memorial, the vigil, and met with the border patrol. I had never participated in any type of Native American rituals before, so remembering Ariana and her unborn child were incredibly meaningful to me. Even though I knew nothing about Ariana or her story, planting her cross reminded me that the people crossing the desert are not just statistics that the media made up to scare us about the border, but these are real people with families and loved ones. Meeting the border patrol was powerful to me because it reminded me that like the migrants, the border patrol are real people and their job is to keep America safe. I pray that all of the border patrol will do their jobs in a humane way and not hurt the migrants they encounter and remember that just like them, the migrants are real people. The vigil that we participated in stood out to me because not only did we remember the people that they had names for, but the migrants who had no way for the people who found them to identify who they once were. These people were also people, even if we do not know who they were and they had people who loved them. One of the men who was in charge of the vigil said the names of two people who we know the names of and said they were made in the image of God, and then said “A person whose name is known only by God, has been made in the image of God, and had loved ones here on Earth.” This struck me because this person probably still has living relatives who do not know what happened to them. We need to remember everyone, not just the ones who are named. I am very glad I took this trip, and it was worth all of the fundraising I had to do. I am glad that I met all of my fellow YLAers, and I hope to continue to be friends with them after this trip. I am very grateful to everyone, especially H Mark Smith and Father Richard Agular, for putting this trip together. I am very happy I did YLA, and I will remember it forever. I hope that because of this trip, I can make a greater difference in the world.
St. Paul's, Newburyport
|Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 13, 2016 at 5:25 PM||comments (0)|
Looking back on my trip to Arizona, there were many memorable events that I enjoyed doing very much, and which I will remember for a while. The three activities that I enjoyed the most were visiting the Slaughter Ranch, painting the wall dividing the States and Mexico in Agua Prieta, and visiting the Imago Dei middle school in Tucson. The Slaughter ranch, located a few miles outside of Douglas and past a long dirt road, was a past military base and home. The ranch was also home to some rare animals, such as snails and snakes. I enjoyed visiting the ranch due to the immense size of the property and the spectacular view from the top of a hill. The day after we visited the Slaughter Ranch, we went into Mexico to paint a mural on the fence dividing the States and Mexico. I enjoyed this very much as well, because I felt as though I was helping bring the work of the artist to life. We painted from around 9:00 to 11:30, and the result was a spectacular painting of an orange sunset with birds and trees. The mayor of Agua Prieta even came, and made a speech complementing us on our work. The following day, we went to the Imago Dei middle school, located in Tucson. The school is an Episcopalian school focused on providing high quality education to low income families at no cost to them. I enjoyed being at the school due to its excellent goal of educating everyone, no matter how much money they have, and its eagerness to teach. Overall, I enjoyed my trip to Arizona very much, and moments like the ones I have mentioned are ones that I will remember for a long time. I am very happy to have gone on the trip, and now I’m sorry it’s over. I also will miss all the friends that I made at YLA. Thank you for this experience. I will always recall it happily.
All Saints, Brookline
|Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 13, 2016 at 5:20 PM||comments (1)|
After a week living in the desert, the first realization I have is that I am excited to be back in Boston. However, as I move on to my next experiences that life has in store for me, I first need to reflect on what I am taking away from my journey.
The first and most important thing I realized in the borderlands was the difference one wall has made. After carefully observing the American side and Mexican side the differences were shocking. After just two days in Mexico, you clearly see that the men, women, and children there lead very difficult lives. Mexico is a so-called "third world" country, bordered by the best and richest country the world has ever seen. Looking through the gaps in the wall, we could see this. Although there were many difference, the Mexican people were some of the most hospitable people on the mission trip. In Mexican tradition, anyone who enters your house is a gift.
Further reflecting on the trip, I will take away some of the most unique discussions I have heard, specifically pertaining to immigration. Having met with the migrant center in Mexico and the US Border Patrol, there were two sides to a debate, just like there are two sides to a wall. The migrant center in Mexico is in place to help people who have or tried to illegally enter the United States of America. Once in contact with the migrant center, these people will be assisted with new ways to try to enter the US. The migrant center believes walls should not exist. In a contrasting view, the Border Patrol has one of the most honorable jobs on the planet. Their job is to keep us safe from dangers trying to penetrate our great nation. It should be noted that not everyone trying to illegally migrate into the US is a criminal or crook. However, even if one in a hundred is, the danger is still so ever present and they keep us safe from that scary reality.
In closing, some of the key takeaways for me will be the shocking difference a wall can make, and the distinct arguments surrounding immigration.
Church of the Redeemer, Chestnut Hill
|Posted by H. Mark Smith on August 13, 2016 at 5:20 PM||comments (0)|
This trip to Arizona could be considered a life changing experience. Originally, I was a little scared and even intimidated by the idea of going across the country without my family or any form of familiarity besides the other YLA members. The thought of meeting new people was also another bridge that I had to cross. On top of that I take French, which was not so helpful seeing that part of our trip was going to Mexico. All in all, I felt like this was going to be a slightly difficult trip.
On this journey we met with many different groups of people. Such diversity brought on a wide perspective of what it is like to live on the border of two countries. For our first trip we went to a Migrant Center in Augua Prieta, Mexico where we learned a piece of what it is like for migrants that are deported or otherwise not able to get into America. Berto, the person in charge of the Migrant Center, enlightened us on the lives of some migrants and I genuinely admired his passion to help them. After hearing his story we went to the Douglas-Prieta Women & Children's center also in Augua Prieta. There we learned about the center and how they teach all those who go there multiple skills such as knitting, sewing, and other arts and crafts. The members of the center also prepared a meal for us, which was very kind of them. After eating, we lead the children in different activities. Being able to connect with the kids through face paint and frisbee throwing was a heart warming experience. What really surprised me was how welcoming and kind the people from the center were. Although I was unable to speak to them how I wanted to, they were patient and accepting of the limited amount of Spanish I knew and for that I am truly grateful. Towards the end it was even a little hard to part ways with the people of the Women Center, which speaks volumes seeing that we had only known them for a few short hours. On Sunday we were fortunate enough to attend two church services. The first church was St. John's in Bisbee, Arizona and it was nice to be the one in the pew and not on the altar. The southern essence of the music was also an interesting change, since I am used to a more Caribbean beat when it comes to church songs. The next task was getting to know the church members of St.john's after service. This tapped into my nervousness, but having others to go and introduce myself with made it an enjoyable experience. The next church we went to was St. Stephen's in Douglas-Prieta, were it was a bilingual service which was also a new experience. I also was an acolyte for this service and it was enlightening to seeing the similarities and differences in what I did at the service there versus what I do during service back home. Father Richard, the priest of St. Stephen's allowed me to keep the cross I had worn, which shocked me because he had gotten the cross in Honduras and had kept it for twenty years. A highlight of mine was painting the Mexican side of the wall, covering up the hard metal that so blatantly shows the separation of Mexico and America with a peaceful sunset. It made me feel as though a was taking part in the next step towards love and peace between the two countries. That was an experience I will never forget. The following day we headed to St. John's church and celebrated the life of a migrant who passed away on her task to cross the border. This memorial reminded on the ones who I had left back home. I still cannot fathom what it would be like to lose a family member in such a way; I mourned over her as if she was a part of my family. The following day visited a middle school named Imago Dei. This school goes for ten hours a day, for six days a week, and the entire school year is eleven months. I had never felt so close to fainting until the moment I received this information. My second reaction was utter confusion; how and why was this school going on for so long? I later found out this is for the greater good, and in fact this is done in order to give their students, or scholars as they are called, the most effective learning experience. These long hours leave opportunity for extra help, enrichments, getting multiple meals, and even allowing those whose first language is not English to be immersed in it and pick up the language faster. This school's main goal is to help and support every scholar that attends. Hearing about Imago Dei made me appreciate the school that I go to and reminded me not to take advantage of the education I have, since others may not be able to receive one to the same extent. Throughout our trip we also mingled with youth from other parishes and it was nice talking to people around my age about what Arizona is like and what they do to pass the time there. They were open to taking to us and were just as excited to find out what we do in Massachusetts. Phoenix was an amazing place, and it was interesting to see how it looked similar to Boston. While on Phoenix we visited Trinity Cathedral, a beautiful church that had so much effort and consideration put into the building. We learned of how it came to be and all of the specifics that were added to truly represent the care that we share with each other and the Creator.
Thinking over this entire trip, I'm glad that there isn't a house or some form of extreme labor to look back on. We did not go there to "fix a problem" or have a physical piece of evidence to claim and mark as "the thing I did there". What I have to share is stories and experiences, which I feel is much more important. Each moment of honest emotion will truly stay with me for many years to come. Hopefully, through me you hear the voices of Douglas-Prieta, Augua Prieta, Bisbee, and Tucson as I bring back all that I experienced in Arizona. Thank you.
Church of the Holy Spirit, Mattapan