Today was travel day, which went relatively well, with the exception of some upset stomachs over a little turbulence between Madison and Denver, our connection point. We arrived here in Sahuarita/Green Valley, Arizona, and I say it this way cognizant of our privilege — our arrival involved some plane flights and a drive from Tucson in comfortable rental vehicles. For those from other countries attempting to escape desperate poverty and violence, arriving here involves treacherous/life-threatening (even life taking) travel, often at the hands of exploitative persons asking for money well beyond people’s means, across difficult desert terrain with wild temperature swings from day to night, usually poorly equipped, long stays in wretched conditions in detention centers if caught or if trying to legally obtain asylum,… Arrival here for these people is a dangerous, complicated trek, and then they are treated as criminals, as less than people. And they are treated as criminals, as less than human, by people who claim to be followers of Jesus. The shame is not on those trying to cross the border, but those who erect a border in their hearts to “protect themselves” against other children of God.
End of sermon, for now… After arriving in Tucson, our group decided to see the Desert Museum, which is mostly an outdoor feast of flora and fauna of the region. After half a day of stale airplane and airport air, the breeze across the desert refreshed us. The photos are from the museum, poor substitutes for the real thing.
We were then blessed to meet up with Leila Pine, a friend of ours from James Reeb Unitarian in Madison, and her husband Craig. Leila is a snowbird who spends her winters in Tucson, doing much humanitarian aid for migrants and refugees. She shared some stories of life here in Tucson: the dreadful condition of migrants trying to cross the desert, the work of local churches and aid organizations to help those granted entry into the US seeking asylum, but who are given no help by our government to help find their sponsor families. She had so much to share about what folks are doing her, that we were late finishing dinner and getting to our hosts for the trip. But we are now all cozily ensconced, and needing sleep for a busy day ahead.
Tomorrow: crossing the border