Day 4 Wednesday East Lost Angeles
Dolores Mission School, Father Ted’s talk, and the screening of American Crime
God has already blessed this week in more ways than I can count. Whether this was through providing us the opportunity to serve the homeless at the Saint Francis Center on Hope street, or allowing us to see the generosity of those who are serving the homeless on skid row in the Cardinal Manning center, God is good.
Today, God was no less generous. Our main task of the day was to work in the Dolores Mission School in a designated classroom. Being an education major myself, this was right up my alley. For my placement, the Dolores Mission School had me help out with the 1st grade class. Coming into the school, I expected the children to reflect the difficulties that they faced during their home lives, and to have many issues in the classroom. However, when I entered the classroom, all of the students were filled with joy and compassion, and were so willing to learn. One thing that really stuck with me from this time spent in the school was a conversation I had with one of the teachers, Mr. S. In this conversation, Mr. S. explained how his placement at Dolores Mission could not be described as a job, but rather a vocation. Our careers that we decide upon shouldn’t be based on our wants, but rather on what God is calling us too, and what He needs most from us. Mr. S. was the perfect example of someone doing their job in order to serve the Lord, and it was apparent through his enthusiasm and passion for what he was doing.
After the school, we had the privilege of listening to Father Ted give a talk about the community of Dolores Mission and some of the struggles that they face. I honestly don’t think that I have ever met a man more passionate about what he was doing that Father Ted. In my eyes, I would consider Father Ted a walking saint. In this talk, Father Ted really gave us a deeper understanding of the flaws in our immigration laws and regulations. On this trip, many of the people that we met would be considered undocumented. With this, many people say that we need to deport all of the undocumented immigrants. However, these people have never actually taken the time to get to know and understand the situations that these people are facing. Many of the people that we met fled Mexico in fear of their lives, and the lives of their families. Personally, as a Christian, I don’t understand how we can morally say that we should send these people back to an area in which they are in constant fear for their lives.
One thing that really stuck with me in Father Ted’s talk was his explanation of one of the pieces of art in the Dolores Mission Chapel. In this piece of art, Mary is portrayed as carrying Jesus on a journey from a small Mexican village to the city of Los Angeles. Mary has one arm extended as if welcoming us to join her in the journey, and to explain to those who have immigrated that they were not alone on their migration. Father Ted then went on to explain that Mary and Joseph, as well as Jesus could be considered undocumented immigrants, as they fled from King Harrod into a new country, Egypt. This picture really summed up the journey that the immigrants have made with faith in hope to find a better life in which they can serve the Lord as well as promote the well being of their families. I don’t want anyone who reads this blog to think that I am telling you to change your opinion on the subject, however I do think that anyone who reads this needs to take a moment to consider what the people who immigrate to our amazing country are facing, as well as the moral and ethical implications of our actions in forcing these immigrants to return to their home countries where the idea of tomorrow is a hope rather than an opportunity.
I really give no justice to the talk that Father Ted gave, as it truly moved mountains in all of our hearts and really changed the opinion of not only myself, but many others. The last part of our day was spent at a screening premier of episodes one and two of the new drama on ABC, American Crime. This show is about the realities that many of the homies of Los Angeles face in their lives and many things that they have gone through. What was amazing about this experience was not the show itself, but rather being able to see the men and women who are going through Homeboy Industries in a more natural setting. These men and women are incredible people who were caught in unfortunate circumstances throughout their lives but are seeking to give up their old ways and to be integrated into our society. Being able to hear them talk outside of Homeboy was really powerful because it really showed the hope and joy that they had towards the pursuit of a better life. It is hard to look past what people have done in their past, however it is essential in the process of loving everyone as Jesus loves us.
To end the night, we got to go back to our host families and spend the night with them. When I got back to my host family, we all sat around the table and asked each other questions and those who spoke English answered in Spanish and those who spoke Spanish answered in English. The language barrier was definitely one of the struggles that I have had on this trip, however this experience was extremely powerful because we got to work through that and assist each other in that struggle. Overall, I think the theme of the day was; that we need to learn to love people based upon who they are rather than what they are. These people have gone through situations that I can’t even imagine, and to see the compassion and joy that they live with is still beyond my comprehension. These people have ignited a passion inside of me that I hope I can share with you, and I hope that as I mentioned before, you take the time to think about the situations that these people have faced, as well as who these people are before you jump to conclusions.