By Brooke Collins
SSP Border Coordinator
The borderlands across the Southern United States seem to be the hot topic these days. We hear a lot in the news and in the political campaign about immigration and securing our borders against people coming into the US illegally. We hear about building up walls to keep these dangerous people out of our country.
Words that cause us to forget that there is a person behind each of these identities.
We hear words like ILLEGAL ALIEN and UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT and REFUGEE and DEPORTEE. Words meant to instill fear. Words that cause us to forget that there is a person behind each of these identities. People like Hector and Yolanda, separated from their families by complex immigration laws and a wall, only allowed to see each other through a wire mesh, only able to touch the tips of their pinky fingers.
This is my first year working with Sierra Service Project and I am excited to be creating a safe and impactful border experience for volunteers along and across the San Diego/Tijuana border. When I first moved to San Diego in 2007, I was scared to cross the border. But the reality is that Tijuana is not that different from any other metropolis. There are people commuting to work, kids going to school, people going about their daily lives.
But the reality is that Tijuana is not that different from any other metropolis.
Since 2013 I have been serving as a mission volunteer through the United Methodist Church and while most of my time has been spent living in Costa Rica, I have traveled to Nicaragua, Mexico and Zimbabwe as well. What I have found is that people are just people everywhere you go. They may live in houses that look a little different, they may eat foods that taste a little different, their skin may be any shade of the rainbow, but they are still people. People trying to care for their families, love God and love thy neighbor.
At a park near the Pacific Ocean at the Northwest corner of Tijuana adjacent to the US/MX border wall, there is a lighthouse, El Faro. And on the other side of the wall, a California State Park. And it is here where both sides meet at a spot known as Friendship Park, El Parque de la Amistad. It is here where we bring families together on both sides of the wall, if only for a pinky kiss. It is here where we stand in solidarity together and share in communion at the Holy table, a table that is open to all of God’s people and unites us together as one through the body and blood of Christ.
We invite you to join us in Tijuana and San Diego to meet the people who are living in the reality of migration. Hear their stories, feel their hope, experience their faith.
I have heard it said that fear is the absence of faith. Let’s take the fear out of the unknown and replace it with faith in God’s call on our lives to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Editor’s Note: Learn more about the San Diego program. This summer, volunteers in San Diego will have the option of crossing the border into Tijuana where they will meet community members and get a safe view into life on the other side of the border. There will also be a great program for those who wish to stay in the U.S.. Those who want to participate in the experience over the border in Mexico should talk with their group leader, and begin the process of getting their passport now.