by Rev. Dr. Delle McCormick, in her November 7 update from the migrant shelter:
Today, the elections are over and the struggle for justice and joy goes on. Our shelter is operating at capacity and every day we have more new volunteers and organizations that want to partner with us. Every day, many times a day, we witness the transformation of our volunteers, guests, the broad community in Southern Arizona, and beyond. I have so many stories to tell and space only allows me to share a few. Stay tuned for the book to follow! I’m kidding but have come to realize that this ministry has inspired and emboldened many and those stores need to be shared beyond our email updates. Perhaps with my ten-day vacation that is coming up, I will have time to write more about what I see happening every day around the ministries of our shelter. Meanwhile here are three short stories:
Anita is a young Latinx high schooler whose parents immigrated to Arizona from Mexico. As a US citizen and first generation Mexican-American, she volunteered with the shelter’s guest services ministry from its inception. She was surprised at first to hear people’s stories of traveling with a small child for seven months to get to the US, and that they slept in cages and had only eaten crackers and juice in detention. As she interviewed arriving guests, she was drawn into the tragedies of their lives, and soon thereafter began to see them relax and be family like any one of us on this side of the border, joking, playing, laughing and loving their children. Yesterday, Anita came to my office and asked if she could do a documentary on the shelter for her high school film class. Her teacher cried when she told him what she was learning. She said to me, “It is so strange, so scary to think about doing this! I mean, I am shy! But it’s like I feel like I have to do this, like I have to tell their stories so people can come to see like I have seen because I can. I am in a place where I can and have to tell these stories.” I told her that her finding her calling is the reason why I am a pastor, to accompany people on the journey to transformation, and be transformed myself in the process. Yay God!
A guest and her baby were accompanied by a volunteer to the airport where they passed through all the security steps, only to be pulled from the line as they boarded the plane. The credit card that had been used by her sponsor to purchase her ticket had been stolen. Her sponsor, who had no access to credit cards, had gone to pay cash for her ticket and was told she could not pay in cash. The sponsor went home and a ‘friend” said she could give the cash to the friend and use his credit card to purchase ticket. The “friend” absconded with the money and the sponsor was left trying to figure out how to pay for two more tickets for a family member. Scams of this vulnerable population abound.
Last night three local musicians, including a Rincon early childhood learning staff member, arrived at dinner time to serenade our guests with mariachi hits and other fun and sentimental music. Our guests gathered around in rapt attention singing along and laughing as they heard familiar music being played by total strangers. The musicians stayed and shared a meal with our guests, followed by more music and song. The kindom of God is like three musicians who give up their gigs to play music for migrant families.
We will keep on keeping on until we are told we have to stop. And the deep sense I get every day on campus is that God’s Good News will not be stopped. It may morph. Some may step back while others step up. But so many of us have been profoundly changed by this experience of sharing shelter with our guests that only good can come from these weeks in ministry together. Beyond congregations, beyond faith beliefs and practices, beyond political parties, beyond borders – we have grown the church into something new, something bigger in this generation, this time, for these people.
We will communicate the decision of our Church Council about the future of the shelter after our meeting this evening. Please pray for us as we discern how to live together into God’s kindom here on earth.
Thanks be to God!
Blessings on your way,