summer service 2021 / agua prieta, sonora

Updates and Thankful Hearts

¡Hola a todos!

We are approaching the end of our third week here in Agua Prieta and there is so much to update you about!

Our time has been filled with laughter, tears, and a lot of shifting perspectives.

The remainder of our first week was spent visiting with and hearing from the various mission organizations Frontera de Cristo partners with here in Mexico. After we were introduced to them all, our team, along with the Mexican intern team, was asked to rank where we felt God was calling us to serve. We were encouraged to seek a position based not on what we wanted to do, but where we thought our gifts would be best utilized. Here is what our team will be doing for the next few weeks:

DouglaPrieta Trabaja: Van, Ricky, Jada, Hope

Van and Ricky are paired up with Xitlalli, one of the Mexican interns, and they have been hard at work in the community garden. This mission promotes sustainability and community involvement so as to reduce dependency on weak job markets, government assistance programs, charity, and border crossing. Members of the community here in Agua Prieta participate in growing their own produce, and Van and Xitlalli are helping to plant those seeds. They’ve been having fun teaching each other English/Spanish phrases!

Jada and Hope are working with the children at DouglaPrieta. A branch of the mission provides tutoring services and English lessons to local children. Jada and Hope have been in the classroom working individually with the kids to help them with their homework and teach them English. The two-mile bike ride to and from their mission site has proven to be a blessing and a challenge!

Food Crew and Recipe Book: Megan and Gabbi

Megan and Gabbi are working with Leslie, one of the Mexican interns, under the supervision of Joca. They are in charge of fueling our Summer Service team and the team of Mexican interns every day. They work closely with local families in the area to prepare all our meals- so far I have no complaints! This team is also working on compiling and designing a bilingual recipe book with recipes from community members here in Agua Prieta. We have all been tasting and seeing that the Lord is good!

Love Mercy, Do Justice, Café Justo: Jess

Jess is partnering with Yirel, one of the Mexican interns, to revamp the Frontera de Cristo website and assist in marketing work for FDC’s new Love Mercy Do Justice Initiative. LMDJ provides Fair Trade PLUS coffee from Café Justo to migrant resource centers here in Agua Prieta and beyond free of charge. Jess and Yirel have been learning how to communicate across language barriers to complete all their work- when they need to take a break, they enjoy a friendly game of chess.

Lily of the Valley Presbyterian Church: Me (Sofia)

Lily of the Valley is the oldest Presbyterian church in the state of Sonora, and was founded by Frontera de Cristo in 1985. It is a small but welcoming church; our team is staying in the multi-purpose building attached to the sanctuary. This mission site is kind of a catch-all. So far I’ve been painting the exterior and interior walls of the building, but I’ll also be helping out with VBS, organizational projects, and other odd jobs around the church. I’m partnered with Pedro Emmanuel, one of the Mexican interns. We’ve had to get creative about communication because I speak little Spanish and he speaks little English. We’ve been exchanging basic vocabulary and love listening to music as we work–especially Queen!

MRC (Migrant Resource Center) and CAME (Center Attention to Migrantes Exodus): Everyone

The Migrant Resource Center is located right on the Arizona/Mexico border. It provides temporary assistance to recently deported migrants who are just arriving in Mexico. This mission provides coffee, food, a change of clothes, and basic medical attention to the weary migrants who come through the doors. We learned that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, migrants from other Central American countries are no longer deported back to their home countries. Instead, they are just dropped off in Mexico. Many do not know where they are and have been traveling for weeks. The MRC provides immediate care for the migrants before they either continue on their way or are transported to CAME.

CAME was founded in 2002 and provides hospitality to migrants who are either approaching the US border to cross, or who have just been deported. Migrants stay at the shelter for varying periods of time depending on their personal needs.

Although our team has been split up at these various mission sites, we are all going to be able to participate in this mission. There are two shifts available every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8 PM-12 AM and 5 AM-8 AM. We will be paired with Mexican interns and our job will be to welcome incoming migrants at the MRC.

Although there is so much more to say about these wonderful missions, I’ll save all that for when you can hear our stories in person (or virtually)!

Personal Reflection:

As our second full work week comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the ways in which God is working in and through our team. We have been struggling, growing, and learning a lot as we are presented with the reality of the border/migration issues that seem so distant back home. More than anything else, I find myself praying for a thankful heart. Feelings of shame, guilt, pity, confusion, and helplessness have been pretty much constants for most of our team, but I have been trying my best to remain thankful, not just for my own life, but for the beautiful things God is doing and has the power to do in the lives of these migrants. I know that the complexities of the migration issues that exist here on the Mexico/Arizona border are not simply reducible to bad nations, bad leaders, or bad policies. Instead, I recognize the overwhelming reality of human sin, something that will not be solved during our short time here in Agua Prieta, nor in our lifetime. Despite this realization, I am trying my best to remain hopeful. It is easy to fixate on the negative ways in which American/Mexican border relations have affected the health and livelihood of migrants. It is easy to be heartbroken for the people whose stories we have heard, human beings created in the image of God, who are just trying to provide for themselves and their families. It is easy to be angry at the big wall, the thorns in the desert, and the scorching sun. It is easy to point fingers and assign blame. It is easy to give up hope. It is easy to be frustrated. And yet, in the midst of all of this, I think God is still good. The work that Frontera de Cristo does isn’t easy, but it maintains a spirit of giving and thanksgiving rather than one of defeat and anger. In this time, it is difficult to be thankful. It is my prayer that our team, myself included, will continually choose to do what is difficult.

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