Tuesday, February 22, 2011


     Originally written to post January 28, 2011.

     Our weekend  in Laredo, Texas was an exciting and exhausting experience. We did an Encuentro which translates to an encounter with the Hispanic people.   Laredo is a curious place, it sits right on the US/Mexican border. Anglos, Hispanics, legal and illegal, native Laredoans and a few newcomers live there. All seem to live together peacefully. Many have left and many are called back home, often by the place.
          We had the privilege to meet and listen to women who shared their amazing personal experiences. Maria spent 6 days on top of a train traveling from Guatamala to Mexico eventually crossed into the U.S. Anna risked her life and custody of her children to get out of a horrific abusive situation. Sylvie is piecing together a life that is far better than one she would have ever had in her homeland. It is a life we might look at and wonder, "is it better?" She would answer with an emphatic "yes!" These women are gentle, courageous and have profound faith. They believe in the human spirit, the goodness of people and in a God who will not leave them. There is a lightness and a hope that shines in their eyes and their smiles.
     On Friday we went south of town and visited El Cenzio Colonia, a ghetto built up next to the Rio Grande river. Some colonias are more developed than others, the one we visited has infastructure, a community government and two schools nearby.The Lutheran and Methodist Churches are present and doing great work.
     While at the colonia, we went down to the bank of the Rio Grande, less that one hundred yards wide, riverbank to riverbank. and looked across at Mexico. Getting to see the mighty Rio Grande was a high point, it's beautiful and haunting at the same time, quiet by day and can be deadly at night. The bank across the river seems deserted, but, there are many who creep through the brush and lay in wait for darkness to fall so they can slip into the water and cross to the US. Many with just the clothes on their backs and their children in their arms. They pray God will see them safely across without the river or the Border Patrol catching them. The Border Patrol waits all along the border and it was unsettling to see a Border Patrol truck hidden in the brush along the river.
     The thought crossed my mind that it was likely someone would try to cross the river that night. Would they make it? If not, what would happen?  I wonder, what is it like to live in a defined area, bound by the natural border of the river and the unnatural borders known as checkpoints?  What is it like to live on the run?     
     The faith community of Laredo is involved, committed and  a voice of reason for the reality of life in a bi-lingual border town. The pastors and priests of the churches strike a delicate balance between the law of man and the law of God. They must make room for law enforcement/border agents and illegals to live and worship together. They ask these questions, "What about sanctuary? How does one create safety and sanctuary for people? How does a threat to basic security affect one’s psyche, sense of home and family?" These are questions to consider in my own life and in ministry. Caring for God's people is courageous business, but it is what we are all called to do.

"...whatever you do for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40 

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