Before Christmas, major attention on the news focused on the immigrants traveling through Mexico towards the United States. Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Yuma wanted to reach out in whatever way we could.
An opportunity came through the help of Fr. Emilio Chapa, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma. Instead of exchanging names for Christmas to buy a small gift for each other, we pooled that money, and those of us who had passports joined him on a trip across the border which he frequently makes into San Luis, Mexico, 45 minutes from Yuma. There we visited with immigrants in tents along the border wall. The children came out from under their tents and tarps to talk to us and show us their little toys.
Parents with young children were willing to tell their story with. those of us who knew the language. As we took in their beautiful smiles and hugs we slipped dollar bills quiety into the hands of the children.
Seeing their conditions first hand and realizing their long wait to be processed touched our hearts.
Our next stop was to a girls orphanage run by a group of Sisters from Mexico. Their dedication and spirit was uplifting. The girls ranging from three to sixteen, were in school at the time of our visit. They are from very poor families and stay at the orphanage during the week and go home on weekends. The tour showed a loving place totally supported by donations.
We were then treated to a tour of the sister church of St. Francis of Assisi in San Juan by the same name. Parishioners have come over and provided help in making it possible to get basic needs for a larger church, such as a roof, floor (they kept talking about how it was a dirt floor before), lights and air conditioning to start with. They are a blessing to each other and are very proud of all that has been accomplished so far.
Continuing our drive we saw an area where homes are made of cardboard or from whatever materials can be found. With it being near the dump, debris is everywhere, especially on an extremely windy day like this day was. Gratitude for our many blessings prevailed.
Coming home gave us an appreciation of those who have to cross the border every day, including many of our students. The wait to cross the border through San Juan would have been at least two hours, so a drive to Algodones was only an hour and a half wait and then just ten minutes from Yuma.
We are truly grateful to experience this special day.