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