Our first few days of Summer Service have been quite eventful!
The team arrived at 9PM in Tucson, and we [Trevor and Staci] were waiting for them with a skillfully made sign. 😉
We then drove down to Douglas, Arizona to go through the port of entry to Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico where we’ll be spending our summer working with Frontera de Cristo.
We hit our first hiccup when the bus we were riding in was stopped by border patrol, and we didn’t have the correct documentation to prove that the bus belonged to the ministry. We then off-boarded and walked to the Migrant Resource Center where we waited for a couple of people from the ministry who graciously woke up to pick us up in vans and drive us to the church where we’ll stay this summer.
As many “hiccups” can be, this one turned out to be a unique and eye-opening blessing when our host Mark pointed out the next day that the very building that provides a safe haven for many migrants who are turned away or who have trekked through the desert also provided a safe haven for us in our first moments in Mexico.
We arrived at the church, settled into our dormitories, and got to bed between 3-3:30AM.
The next morning, we met the Frontera Interns at a welcome session, a group of young adults about the same size as our team. They come from all over Mexico and serve with Frontera for a year. Our team speaks varying levels of Spanish, theirs varying levels of English – though many of us are wishing we knew more. We did several team-building exercises together, and through the first day already formed a bond regardless of a language barrier.
We worshipped with Lily of the Valley congregation, and our host Mark graciously interpreted the service via wireless headphones provided for us by the church – several team members were able to listen without the translation and understand. Jada was particularly proud of herself for understanding the whole service without headphones.
We spent the afternoon resting then gathered with the Frontera interns again. After some more icebreaker games that became progressively deeper and challenged us more to communicate in the opposite language, we suddenly felt more like one team instead of two. Those who speak both languages helped those who were struggling, though everyone put forth the effort to communicate as well as possible. There is a desire on both teams to communicate well out of mutual respect.
After our games, we walked together to the local plaza for dinner. There was music, so many food trucks, kids with balloons, and OH MY Sonora Hot Dogs are something to behold. As Gabbi put it, “My mouth is confused. There are so many flavors and it’s so good.” We asked how frequently this festival occurs and were informed that it is every single night. Sonorans know how to have fun. 🙂
The next we took a short trip with the Frontera crew and interns to the border wall in town. There were so many emotions and thoughts to process, as many of us were seeing the structure for the first time in person. We spent some time in prayer and shared our reflections with one another, as Joca and Miriam from Frontera translated for us all.
When we came back we went to Cafe Justo and sat on the beautiful patio outside while we waited for lunch and bicycle training.
We want to mention that most of our meals have been prepared by families from the church, and we feel so incredibly blessed and grateful to have such delicious food to eat.
Afterward, we had training for riding our bicycles (our transportation for the summer) – how to care for them, what to do if dogs are chasing (PS – the answer to that is “go faster”.)
Joca then shared the history of Frontera de Cristo with us and her role. We can’t wait to share with you all more about this ministry!
That evening we had a Carne Asada cookout on the patio at Cafe Justo for Mark’s birthday celebration. There was a community table, twinkle lights in the trees, perfect weather, lots of laughter, live music, and at sunset we all ran up to the balcony upstairs to watch the sunset over the desert horizon.
Now today. We already feel like we’ve been here for weeks!
We had the opportunity this morning to walk a small portion of the Migrant Trail (A 2,000 to 3,000 mile journey, in which, migrants risk their lives to reach the US.) We hiked through the desert to the border wall and were instructed to imagine what it would be like if we had hiked for days or weeks, or had a child with us, with hopes and dreams for a better future for us or our children. As we walked the trail, our guides would explain things that had been left behind – a slipper that was found would have been used to protect feet or hands.
When we walk in someone else’s shoes even for only an hour or two, and if we allow ourselves, we can gain perspective and empathy in a way that just hearing about a situation may not teach us.
We ate lunch under a big tree that Frontera calls “The Tree of Life” where they would leave water barrels for migrants as it’s a place where many people stop to rest.
We were sweaty and tired, but we got to go back to a van to transport us to a place where we can shower and eat and know that we are safe. We don’t want to take that for granted, and we will continue to reflect and process the experience we had today.
One of the most beautiful things we’ve experienced so far is the community we’ve already built with our second half, the Frontera Interns. Expect to hear a lot more about our new friends in the coming weeks.
I [Staci] am just recapping events here, but from now on our team members will begin sharing experiences, thoughts, and prayers with you through this blog.
Would you please pray for:
- The team to learn and grow in our understanding of the things we’re experiencing, that we can process everything and reroute our perspectives
- To continue to form a strong bond with the Frontera interns
- The work of Frontera de Cristo at the border and for their many partners