East LA Day 2 and 3, 2017
Better late than ever we have arrived! East L.A. we love your culture and community, but we can do without the California traffic! We started our journey with authentic Mexican food at Yeya’s (can only be said with a sassy Ya-Ya!). Right off the bat we immersed ourselves immediately into the culture and joined our host families for the very first night! Each family took in 2-4 of us Carroll kids and provided shelter, food, and a loving Latino environment. Some of us were welcomed into the household with Arroz Con Leche, which is a rice milk hot drink/pudding, some went shopping, others watched movies, but one thing in common between each household was that there was conversation. The language barrier was very real. However; it forced us to realize that being communion with others does not necessarily require in depth conversation. There was a realization of appreciation for one’s physical presence and efforts to laugh and translate. Despite having a language barrier, the emotions of excitement, willingness, and genuine kindness were very apparent between us and our host families.
Our first full day in L.A. was spent at Delores Mission School. The children began their day in prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, reflections of the weekend, and a schedule for the week. Each of us were joined a classroom, and we spent half of the day learning with students and assisting the teachers. Papers were graded, math problems were solved, reading took place, and of course there was recess (still our favorite subject). Most of us echoed the excitement and strange reality to time travel back to elementary school and junior high. Also, a great talk with Vice President Melissa brought to our attention some of the struggles that she sees throughout the school and community. The education of these children is effected by home environment, gang violence, and the uncertainty of their futures. Melissa displayed compassion and brought wisdom to our conversation. Her goal to educate and create strong community members is lived through the teachers at the school. Melissa helped shed light on the challenges the children face and explained how strongly Delores Mission is involved in these children’s lives. For example, the teachers will walk the children home if a parent is unable to or if it unsafe for the child to walk alone.
After school we served with Impacto, which is an afterschool program offered for the children at Delores Mission. We joined in snack time, helped the kids finish homework, played games outside until the sun went down. Many of us appreciated being kids again and found that a lot of relationships can be built around good, clean fun!
After a full day with the kiddos, we broke off and went to our host families. Each family had prepared a meal for each of us. Tostadas, taquitos, enchiladas, and pupusa have been engraved into our daily diets and there is no complaining here! Each family displayed such generosity, excitement, and joy to share a meal with us and matched our level of appreciation. It is a rare occasion that we are welcomed into a strangers home with such hospitality and grace. It is a blessing that these four families said yes to expanding their family time and we are so very grateful for their actions.
Molly-Kate and Katie