Flash blogs are short posts written to a shared prompt during community discussion time -- with a ten minute time limit. This practice helps us get used to blogging, stay in communication with our followers, and challenge ourselves to not overthink how we share with the world. See each YAV's response to this shared prompt below!
PROMPT: What is one thing that stuck with you from Agua Prieta yesterday? Feelings, Thoughts, Emotions…
On January 23rd, the TBYAVs went to Agua Prieta with the co-moderator of the PCUSA church and a couple of pastors from Tucson.
When we got to Douglass/Agua Prieta, we immediately went to the U.S. side of the border wall where we had a bible study and time for prayer. On the Mexico side of the border wall, there were friends gathered. With the border wall between us, we formed a circle with our neighbors. We read Ephesians 2:11-22 in Spanish, then in English, and were given the opportunity to share thoughts about what we had just read/heard. At the end of our time at the wall, we all held hands to pray together. This image stuck with me all day. The people at the ends of our semi-circles crouched down to hold hands through the wall. There were huge rolls of concertino wire above their heads. The bible verse we read says:
“For he is our peace; in his flesh, he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.”
Christ has broken down the wall. Christ has crossed the borders. How can I do the same? We are all united in God’s love and peace for all people. Yet we still uphold this border between our neighbors.
Yesterday was the fifth time went to Agua Prieta, Sonora. We have made it a routine to go once a month to attend an event or visit our roommate Hannah. It cracks me up that this has become so routine, yet, our trip is still met with the same initial shock and we all are left just as emotionally exhausted as we return. I am left with a feeling of confusion. What are all these trips suppose to mean? Are they meant to get easier? Are we supposed to interact more and build connections? ARE WE building connections? Are we LEARNING anything?
This last question has been sticking in my head a lot. This trip to AP was different from most others. Our travel was more than just us YAVS and it was more than us and Alison, we were accompanied this time by three guests, one of whom was the co-moderator of the presbyterian church- or for those that aren’t presbyterian and know what a co-moderator is, we lovingly referred to her as “The Pope of the Presbyterian Church” (apparently this title is not known to her). We were given one day to help show Cindy around AP and introduce her to Frontera de Cristo and the other community partners. So, we relieved the week we spent in AP last November. We went to a few of the mission partners, we heard from the Frontera board, from the Migrant resource center, and we went to CAME the shelter for asylum seekers. We started our day at 7:45 am and made it back to the house at 10:30 pm last night.
Around 2 pm Cindy had announced that with the time change, the jet lag, and the information overload, she was getting tired. At that moment it sunk- though we don’t fit it into a day, every day here is impactful. Every day, we are learning and growing and being shaped. It is a lot- and yesterday, I realized its okay to be exhausted. It is okay to need rest and to not constantly be absorbed by the important and impactful work that’s been happening. Though- this won’t change my feelings about work boundaries :).
Yesterday we traveled back to Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico for the day. We were traveling with one of the Co-Moderators of the General Assembly, so the point of this visit was for her to experience the borderlands. What is happening and how the Presbyterian Church is responding.
Because of the delegation that we did in November and other various experiences I have had while here, much of what we were talking about yesterday wasn’t new to me. At one point I was even questioning what I was getting out of this. “What is the point in me being here today?”
Our last stop of the day was at CAME, a shelter for migrants to stay in while they wait to make their assylum petition. I had been in this shelter before and heard about the good work taking place there, but yesterday, in a few moments of downtime, I was drawn to a mural painted on the wall that I hadn’t seen before.
The mural was of “La Bestia” a train that travels regularly from southern to northern Mexico. It is a common way for migrants to travel. The mural depicted migrants sitting atop the train and with them sat Jesus.
He wasn’t doing anything other than sitting and being present with the people on the train. Being present is part of what Jesus asks us to do and that is what is happening at CAME.
But what struck me more was how many different versions of the human experience there are. When I think of people catching a ride on the roof of a train, I think of the 1920s or earlier. That doesn’t feel like a 21st century thing to me.
The point of me being in Agua Prieta yesterday may not have been to be exposed to 100 new things and challenging ideas like it has been the last few times I have visited the city. But I can still learn and recognize that the people sitting in the tents along the border, the people doing puzzles and waiting for dinner at CAME, the people on La Bestia currently all have vastly different life experiences than I do in life.
The moments of looking at this mural brought me back to the reality that I am privileged to be born a white woman from in the United States. I carry that privileged with me everywhere I go. And I need to open my heart more to embrace everyone in all of their experiences.
As a Tucson Borderlands YAV, who resides in Tucson, about once a month we visit Agua Prieta. In Tucson we are still in the Borderlands, however every time we are able to go to Agua Prieta/Douglas a border town in Arizona, we are at the heart of the borderlands.
Every time I’ve gone to Agua Prieta I’ve felt really moved by the different bible studies we’ve attended. Yesterday we had a bible study at the wall with fellow hermanas y hermanos de Cristo. They sent us a picture from their side of the border. They had a beautiful mural on the wall, we sent a photo back that had an aggressive amount of barbed wire on it blocking our view of the community we were getting to have that time of reflection with. This Bible study was held in both languages, and was extremely powerful. Each Bible study I’ve attended held by Frontera de Cristo is the most I’ve felt the presence of Christ and community. Being able to turn to the Bible to a place of justice and liberation and at times a source of hope, has been powerful. In Agua Prieta I see people being able to find strength in the Bible that shows stories of people thousands of years ago fighting the same injustices.