A Word From Our Pastor
My "Immigration" Experience
When I was nineteen years old, I got in an airplane and landed at the International Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a country that was to be my home for the next two years. I was excited about the opportunity in front of me.
Along with the other four men that were traveling with me, I had been working hard to be ready to be in a new country. I had studied the culture and the social expectations. I knew about the people and the places I might experience while I was there. I had been studying "Castellano," the language of Argentina, and for eight weeks I had been using it almost exclusively in all my communication.
And then I touched down on the tarmac...
It didn't matter how much I thought I knew when I took off, when I landed, I was overwhelmed by the newness and the foreignness around me.
And the man who was supposed to meet us to help navigate our first day in this new country of ours...the man who was supposed to get us across this enormous metropolis where we found ourselves...the man who was supposed to provide us with food and shelter...the man who had our tickets for the next section of our trip...never showed up at the airport.
And I was lost! ...But I soon learned that I was not alone.
Kind strangers saw the bewildered eyes of these five new immigrants to Argentina and stopped instead of walking by. They saw the panic emanating from our hearts and chose to speak instead of remaining silent. They saw the confused, perplexed, and baffled Americanos and reached out with arms of love that soothed anxiety, fed the troubled hearts with comfort, and helped us find our way past the fear to our final destination.
There are so many ways in which people find themselves in similar situations today, whether it is due to immigration issues at our border, or those of separation and division within the boundary of our country. COVID has further increased our fears of "not being in Kansas" anymore, while hiding our final destination in a myriad of ways.
But here at St. Francis, just like the folks at the airport in Buenos Aires, we are people who Choose Love and move toward others instead of away. In fact, that is exactly our mission as an organization: to be with people in a space of fear and challenge and "unknowningness," and be loving companions on each other's journey through life.
Who around you needs help to negotiate the challenging pathways ahead of them? How can you provide companionship and guidance and love for people who are going through a much more difficult moment than the one I went through? How can you be a partner of hope and help on their journey?