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Showing posts from May, 2017

The Funeral

The coffin was so small.  She was a tiny woman.  Cut flowers rested in a vase on top of the casket and in another on top of the altar:   bright white lilies and creamy calla lilies.

Death brings white flowers.

Rows of red, aqua and beige plastic chairs were set up in rows under the covered corridor along the back of the parking lot.  This is where church happens on Sunday, where pastors and community groups meet, where fiestas happen.  This is where I found a young woman sitting alone.  There had been others with her during the night, but for a little while the young woman and the body of her mother were alone.  Four white candle flames flickered in the breeze.  We hugged.  We sat.  We talked a little.

As synod workers arrived for their day, some glanced in our direction.  Others paused to give a "good morning" or a hug.  Cars parked and people began their days.

The body had arrived at about 10:30 PM.  Five or six people, including the mother's pastor, stayed until abou…

Mother's Day at the Migration Table

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On May 13th, our little team headed up to our sister church to meet up with the youth group and do a workshop on the theme of migration.  This is the same workshop that my husband has been leading around and about - an introduction to US Migration laws and how the laws and enforcement practices impact Salvadoran families.  The two of us spent some quality time retooling the workshop to make it a little more interactive and appropriate for youth.  We added in photos and removed some of the detailed slides.  The biggest change was the introduction of written scenarios or character stories.  We planned for youth to read these as discussion-starters which we would then follow with the informational power point slides.

We started strong, singing Caminando en la luz de Dios (our Spanish version of We are Marching in the Light of God).  Everyone was clapping and the words are easy so the youth and the moms caught on quickly.  Then we shared the story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph migrating to Eg…

Return to the Migration Table: Why Migrate?

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She came to the United States to study at a graduate school with a student visa.  Her husband and children remained in El Salvador.  After graduation, she got a job offer at a business which sponsored her employment visa.  Her husband also secured an employment visa and the family settled in a small city in the US.  The children were young and quickly became fluent in English.  The parents' English was already pretty good, and improved over time.  Eventually the parents applied for permanent residency.  There were times when the family resided in the US "illegally" or without current documents because their document renewal papers were stuck in a bogged-down system.  The family paid thousands of dollars to immigration lawyers to make sure they followed a correct process.  The mother became a naturalized US citizen.

This is one story of migration from El Salvador to the United States.  The pathways by which Salvadoran families establish roots in the US have been and conti…

A Return to the Migration Table - My Story, Your Story, Our Story

In my elementary school, fifth grade was the year during which each student made a family tree,  made a binder of stories and photographs, fashioned a costume from the homeland, got help from mom or dad in preparing an "ethnic" recipe, and put on a big folk fair for all the students in the school gym.  Norway, Germany, Sweden, Ireland and Italy were well-represented.  Most of the students had grandparents or great-grandparents who traveled by ship to Ellis Island.  One girl had parents who had emigrated from Russia.  One girl had come from China. A few had Native American ancestors.  A few had roots of family trees which disappeared into the early years of the United States or even the 13 colonies.  No one had been brought to the Americas in slave ships.  None of us gave any thought to a kid who might not be able to follow the roots of a family tree.

In my community, we grew up surrounded by nostalgia for the homeland.  We grew up with stories of brave ancestors who left the…

A Return to the Migration Table - A Month of May Days

May Day.

When my friends and I were little, May Day meant walking home from school carrying cone-shaped baskets made of woven construction paper filled with tissue paper flowers.  On the way home, we would hang the May Baskets on the doorknobs of our adopted neighbor "grandmas" and on doors or mailboxes of random people in our neighborhood.  We were taught that this was an act of kindness.

Later, we learned that May Day is celebrated as International Labor Day.  In midwest suburbia we were shown footage of communist marches and were told workers in other places did not work hard because there was no incentive to get ahead like in the US.  We heard little or nothing about protest marches in our own capital or cities.  We thought May Baskets were for little kids.

On May Day 2017, social media showed us marches across the globe celebrating the hard work that everyday people do to support themselves, their families and their communities.  In many places, marchers advocated for …