Yep, the rumors are true. Tomorrow I’m leaving on a jet plane for Georgia…but I do know when I’m coming back :). This past year Alterna , a missional community focused on immigrant advocacy, kept finding its way back into my mind.
As some of you may know these past few years I have been more and more reaffirmed of God’s calling on my life to live in solidarity with my immigrant brothers and sisters, specifically those who don’t have access to the legal documents that my grandparents did when they came to the U.S. from Italy, and to join with them in their struggle for justice. Building relationships with immigrants who are here “undocumented” and seeing the harsh realities that many Latin American families face on the other side of the border has left a deep impression on my heart, soul and mind. Sometimes I myself feel confused why I feel such a stirring in my soul when I discuss immigration advocacy related topics with others. The best way I can describe it is the calling of the Holy Spirit. In the words of Parker Palmer, when we find our calling, or our vocation, we often recognize that “this is something I can’t not do, for reasons I’m unable to explain to anyone else and don’t fully understand myself but that are nonetheless compelling”. This is exactly how I feel about my own calling and more specifically the trip I will be leaving on tomorrow to visit Alterna.
The first day of my trip I’ll spend with the families of the community that makes up Alterna. Anton, the director, is going to give us a “tour” more or less. Alterna is comprised of several families that are both recent Latin American immigrants as well as white, Caucasian families that have felt God’s calling to live together. Even though I haven’t been there yet, the first thing when I think of how to describe this community is the verse discussing marks of the early church from Acts 4:32, that reads “All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had” (NLT).
On Saturday, I’ll be spending the day at “El Refugio”, the hospitality houses that Alterna opens up to immigrant families visiting loved ones at the Stewart Detention center. They told me we will be spending time with the families who may come; basically sitting at the feet of people who have been “crucified” by the horrible injustices of this world.
On Sunday, we will be visiting the Stewart Detention Center. This detention center is the largest privately owned in the nation and has been a place of isolation, abuse and torment for countless immigrants who are detained inside. From my understanding we will be visiting some of those who are being detained. I have no idea to what extent we will be able to talk with them, but I anticipate that it will be quite an overwhelming, eye-opening experience.
On Monday, I’m planning on spending time with the people in the Alterna community until I head back to the airport, back on a jet plane, homeward bound.
I still have so much to learn, as we all do. So here are some resources I have found interesting/helpful in learning more about this issue.
“A Better Life”
Frontline PBS special “Lost in Detention”
I look forward to sharing more when I get back!!