Hello everyone –

I thank you so much for your caring hearts and support. The trip to the border and Southwest Good Samaritan was very valuable. It was a quick trip so we weren’t able to get in everything we wanted. There will indeed be another trip. If your churches have clothes or will continue to collect clothes, that will be appreciated and please let me know. I am very grateful for Joel Blomgren and Cecilia Tolley, (pictured loading the van) who made the long drive with the clothes. Yes, we could just ship clothing but that would defeat the purpose of actually being present and being the hands and feet of Christ in the world.  We were able to give out some clothes personally to refugee children, but will have time to give out more on a longer trip.

I was fortunate enough to attend a prayer meeting on Friday night with Filiberto’s congregation and refugees he and Iglesia Ebenezer are helping. The stories the refugees/immigrants tell are absolutely heart-wrenching. They are unable to tell their stories without tears. The people I met are truly afraid of being returned to their country of origin. For them, it would mean certain death. Most of the refugees I met were single, young women with children. This is why there are no photos of the individuals or the children who received clothes. They simply cannot risk being found. A picture shared online, on Facebook, or any other media is something that could cost them their lives and the lives of their families.

So, as always, a mission trip is both wonderful and terrible. The work we do as followers of Jesus makes us feel great, and we know we are doing the ministry Jesus sets forward for us in the Gospels. But learning the truth with our own eyes, ears, and hearts is the terrible part. It is more than compassion we feel for our brothers and sisters in need- it is the simple knowledge that as all children of God, we are indeed family. And we suffer with our family as yet we hope for a better future and wish to work to make that future a reality. The idea of being family is vividly present in everything Filiberto and the refugees say. They have an attitude and understanding of family that is not made by blood, but love. Love for God, hence, love for one another. Many of our brothers and sisters have to leave their family of birth and homes forever. Filiberto consistently reminds us all that we are a part of One Body. It matters not where we are from, what color we are, or what our economic status is.

I will write more on my experiences soon. For now, I have a couple of ideas for further action on behalf of OCRIM. First, I am hoping some of us will meet with the office of ICE here in Oklahoma to establish a relationship and spirit of cooperation. Then, I would love for us to begin thinking about establishing a relocation center here in Oklahoma. That would be a big task, but it is needed. Then, I would like to work on our next trip to the border. It could be again to the Los Fresnos/Bay view area, and/or take a trip with Borderlinks in Arizona. You can find Borderlinks online if you would like more information. Please let me know if you are interested in finding a date to meet and begin on our next mission action!

Again, thank you so much for your generosity. It is greatly appreciated by Filiberto and everyone it benefits.

May God bless you, and give you the peace of Jesus Christ!

Rev. Mary Heath,  Commission on Refugee and Immigration Ministries Chair