After mapping out the 8+ hour drive to Tucson, Arizona, we filled the gas tank, packed our van, and equipped our vehicle with necessary snacks from Trader Joes. As we approached Tucson I began to text Maddy (a fellow volunteer through the Young Adult Volunteer program serving in Arizona who I also spent last year with, teaching in Honduras) informing her of our arrival. We settled into Borderlinks and prepared ourselves for a five-day adventure in Arizona and Mexico learning about border issues and having fellowship with 30 others YAVs from across the country.
Highlights from the trip included several well prepared seminars on border issues and border history, a visit to the courthouse to see Operation Streamline, a lunch hosted at Casa Mariposa, a desert walk, an overnight stay at Hogar de Esperanza y Paz (HEPAC), and participation in All Souls Day in Tucson. While our retreat was packed with programming, there was also built in time to reflect, share, and grow relationally with one another. It was a powerful experience to share this adventure with my roommates and take away valuable information about immigration and how these issues affect our very own neighbors in Los Angeles. Catching up with friends made in New York at YAV orientation this past August and reconnecting with Maddy also made this trip precious.
What I will take away most from the Borderlinks delegation was the time spent in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. I was immediately brought back to my year in Honduras and flooded with the memories of my time in Central America. The abundance of beans and homemade tortillas, the stray dogs roaming in the streets, the toilets that don’t flush toilet paper, the scarcity of water, the dirt roads, the Spanish language, the hospitality – all reminders of a country and a culture I fell in love with. My heart once again broke for the less fortunate and I was reminded how thankful I should be every day to have the simple pleasures like drinking out of the faucet. I was reminded that there are hurting and suffering people in all parts of the world and there is a great need just miles from the border of our home country. But I was also reminded that while for many, migrating to the United States is a necessary choice to escape the dire conditions they currently live in, for others, Mexico (or Honduras, or wherever) is their home and they love and embrace and thank God for what they have – and they aren’t asking for my pity.
We were all excited to return home to Los Angeles with a new (or renewed) sense of appreciation for the wonderful neighborhood in which we live and a better understanding of our neighbors and much of the population that we serve at our work sites. Additionally, the trip to Tucson inspired a trip to Honduras this February with Maddy and Marisa!!
Thanks so much for your prayers, comments, and support – I couldn’t be serving in Hollywood without your help!
Operation Streamline: (http://www.immigrationforum.org/images/uploads/OperationStreamlineFactsheet.pdf)
Casa Mariposa: (http://restorationproject340.wordpress.com/)