Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Grown in the USA

The sun felt nice as we waited outside in the brisk air, unsure of whether or not we would be able to enter the factory.  The first day of Team Mexico’s border immersion retreat brought us to the cities of Douglas, AZ and Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico to visit a church and a “maquiladora” (or factory).  We waited in the sun for about half an hour when we finally traded our IDs for a visitor’s badge and a hair net and then headed inside where a short middle-aged man greeted us once we made it through the doors.

Visitor Badge #14
Team Mexico w/ hairnets

Before this trip, I had only seen assembly lines on TV and had pictures of “I Love Lucy” in my head; the scene where Lucy and Ethel end up eating as much chocolate as they are wrapping.  Unsurprisingly, the scene was much less comic when the workers are potentially faced with the real threat of job loss --for factory relocation or personal injury-- and poor pay.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday - A Lengthy Journey

There are 70 of them.  Some have been here before; for others, it is the first time, but that fact doesn’t matter much here.  Not really anyway.  The noise from the shackles is loud, clinking and clanging with every movement.  The air is warm from all the bodies, even though the ceiling is 3 stories tall.  There are six black microphones and six grey suits standing near the front of the room.  For the moment they are quiet.  The only noise is the sound of shackles and fear.  A black robe enters the room and we all rise…
Lent is upon us.  In fact, today is Ash Wednesday:  a day where we are reminded of the shortness of human life and God’s condemnation of sin.   But it is also a day to be reminded about the promise of God’s renewal.  The literal lack of baptismal water is replaced by ash and dust which marks us as God’s children; children who receive forgiveness and grace for their sins. 

Perhaps it is simply because it I just returned from a retreat on immigration at the Arizona border, but the journey of Lent seems to contain striking similarities to the journey of a migrant.  They are wandering in the sand, facing death, finding indignity when they are captured, and then punishment.  During this process, they admit their sinful natures to us in the courtroom, “Culpable”, and we accept it and punish them.  We lack in God’s forgiveness.  

“Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  Today is Ash Wednesday, and as part of my commitment to the stories I heard in Arizona and as part of my own Lenten journey, I will be writing one story centering on immigration for each week of Lent.  The stories I heard touched my heart and have led me to believe that the inhumane policies we have been enforcing at our border are sinful.  

A section of the wall near Douglas, AZ

Worse than lacking in God’s forgiveness, we do not acknowledge our own sins against migrants.  We do not care why the migrant is guilty, or why they faced death to come to our doorstep.  We build walls to force them into walking through the desert, we shame them by shackling them together and parading them through a courtroom, and we hate them for seeking our money for their families.   We continue to implement programs that cost millions and are not effective.

"We confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves."

This is confession is often done publicly during church to remind us of our failings.  But following it, the most miraculous thing happens...  We are forgiven.  God forgives and renews, opening the way for us to change.  We are given the opportunity to make things right, to work together to lean towards love.  God doesn’t ask us to confess so he can punish us, but to give us the chance to try again.  Perhaps we too as Americans can be given a second chance to act with love toward our neighbors.

I don’t ask you to agree with me.  I just ask that you listen to the stories and be open to hearing the cry of another human being.  And so, I’ll begin this week, with the dustiness found in the desert…

Monday, February 20, 2012

Back in Mexico

Well, I made it back home to Mexico!

I have about 1,000 stories to tell all of you from my week at the border in Arizona.  My hope is that during the upcoming season of Lent that I will be able to share with you what I have witnessed this past week.  I will try to share a new story each week, hopefully starting Ash Wednesday. 

Since Lent is a time for reflection, I hope that you will all take a moment to stop and think about the world around you.  Instead of giving something up this year, perhaps you might consider pushing yourself to learn about an issue you care about.

For me, this year will be about immigration and the way we form community with our neighbors.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Next Week

So I finally got out my newsletter!  If you didn't receive it, feel free to send me an email at and I will add you to my list. 

I'm going to be heading to the Arizona border this coming week to renew my visa for another 6 months and during the time that I am there, I will be learning about issues concerning immigration as well as some of the laws that the United States and Arizona have regarding entry to the US. 

Team Mexico leaves at 5am (gross) on Sunday and will be gone for about a week.  When we return, we go right from the airport to Tepozlan to celebrate carnival with a family who lives there.  It is going to be super exciting, but probably super exhausting.  I'll let you all know how it goes when I return.  Keep our safe travel in your prayers.  :)

Blessings for your day!!!