1. The homestay: The family we stayed with was truly a joy. The Latin American culture brings so much to our culture. Liveliness, joy, importance of family, spanglish, authentic love of God and Our Lady, it’s beautiful.
2. The x-gang member with a giant spider tattoo across his face: Ok, seriously scary. If I saw him on the street I would probably run. I didn’t even want to sit in the front row during his talk. But he was gentle as a lamb, and his message? God is real, has helped him off the streets, and he’s so grateful for second chances. Period. Hurray for homebody industries providing them with a real supportive community.
3. The illegal immigrant: his story of faith, of absolute TRUST, of openness. The story of a real live person who is just looking for something more and a way to help his family out of extreme poverty. That was a huge stereotype breakdown.
4. The walk around the block with the youth group…at night: ok, colleen almost said no…for good reason, but we begged her and so we went…it’s not very often you see a group of 20 white people walking on the streets of East LA at night. Gangs are reality there. That is a way of life. Often they are born into it, and it is a way of survival. The youth group does not berate them, but instead they strive to live as a light to people to show that there’s a way out.
I am so thankful for these people who let me into their interior struggles, their pasts, and their most sacred desires and dreams for the future. I am thankful for that openness even in knowing that we could never understand, but joyfully sharing it anyway as brothers and sisters in Christ. In that openness we find that we have a lot more in common than we think. And besides, we are the Body and that’s what we do. We listen and we grow from the experiences of one another.
I pray and hope that you have a blessed trip sharing with each other about this crazy journey of life, and that you come back with expanded horizons about our brothers and sisters beyond these borders.
Peace to you all!