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Annunciation House, El Paso, TX

Judy Laffey, Associate, Rhode Island

Last month I had the opportunity to return to El Paso Texas to serve at Annunciation House, a shelter for migrants coming daily to the U.S. seeking asylum. While working in the laundry room at the shelter, I met a migrant (I’ll call him Juan) who volunteered by collecting the daily dirty laundry. He told me he did well on his ranch in southern Mexico with many cattle and horses. The cartel came and threatened his family if he didn’t pay an enormous amount. He had to sell the ranch and all the animals. They returned and said the money wasn’t enough and that they would return the next day for more, or else. He had nothing left to give them. He packed his family in the car that night and drove for days to the U.S. border. “I lost everything”, he said one day incredulously many times through many tears (both his and mine) and just as many times reminded himself that he still had his wife and 3 children. He added that we were now his new family. How prophetic! We are all the human family, all with the same needs, all parts of the Body of Christ, all God’s creation. There is no “us” and “them”; there is only “us”. I worked with many others from all over the country who lived this ideal. Juan lived it too. He said he helped at the shelter as pay-back for all God had given him....a “glass half full” kind of man.

Migrant families arrive every day with just the clothes on their backs, others who carry only a plastic bag with their possessions. The shelter provides each migrant someone who speaks their language, a place to sleep, three squares a day, a shower, clean, warm clothing, help with transportation, needed information, a bag of food for their journey when they leave. The volunteers also receive. The migrant is Jesus in disguise asking to be let in. It gives us a chance to minister to Jesus Himself according to our assigned tasks.

 

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