Tag Archives: gifts

Weavings of Beauty

I looked over my notes and questions I would be asking Danny throughout the interview.
I looked over my notes and questions before my first interview.

I had the chance to conduct my first interview with a gentleman named Danny who is a citizen from Nogales, Mexico who volunteers at El Comedor.

I was able to interview Danny, who had been born and raised in Nogales, Mexico. He has been volunteering at the Commodor for seven years.
I was able to interview Danny, who had been born and raised in Nogales, Mexico. He has been volunteering at El Comedor for seven years.

One of the questions that I asked was, “Where do you see God in all of this?”

After a few meditative moments, Danny’s response was, “God is in us.” He explained that even though he prays for things to get better, he sees God in the actions of people helping other people. He emphasized the ability to see migrants as people and not as a statistic. When we treat people with human dignity and interact with them as an equal, our hearts are impacted and transformed. What an incredible response that really embodies the very essence of what it means to be made in God’s likeness.

I’ve always wanted to change the world, to make a positive impact for those who needed it the most. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that it’s a lot harder than it sounds. But I refuse to be derailed from my goal to change the world. My goals have just have just become more focused. I’ve realized that every person has their own world that weaves through other worlds. When my world collides with another, it is the perfect opportunity for me to take the gifts I have been given to share with another. Our human stories become one, if even for an instant, and we both can benefit. The weaving of all stories under the human race is truly an awe-inspiring mystery.

Even for those of you who don’t believe in God, I hope you believe in the beauty that surrounds us everyday, especially in the face of hardships. Since I have been on this trip, I have seen this over and over again.

Natalia performing at the Commodor for migrants who were recently deported. She invited them to sing along with her and their spirits were immediately lifted.
Natalia performing at the Commodore for migrants who were recently deported. She invited them to sing along with her and their spirits were immediately lifted.

Natalia is a singer/songwriter who used to volunteer at El Comedor. She was born in the US but spent most of her time growing up in Columbia, where she became fluent in Spanish. When she started to hear these stories that the migrants would tell her, she became moved to write songs about their terrifying experiences and turn them into hauntingly beautiful songs.

Maren and I were able to film Natalia interact and play for the immigrants. One of her songs lyrics talked about the fire that burned in their souls to achieve the dream of a better life.

Natalia performed a concert at El Comedor that I was able to help film. A group of men who had just been deported moments before, had been dropped off just as everyone had sat down. The only table left was between my camera and Natalia. While I was filming, I made eye contact with a man and immediately smiled at him. He just sort of stared back at me. A few minutes later, our eyes met again and again I smiled. Shyly, a grin started to emerge from his face. The next time that our eyes met, he was beaming and his eyes twinkled. After dinner, I was conversing with a few other men in my broken Spanish and I could see him standing back and waiting. I went over and introduced myself to him and held out my hand to meet his. I learned that he was from a town in Central Mexico, 20 years old, and traveling by himself. His warm smile is what kept my tears from pouring out. We spoke very few words between us as I had to start packing up our gear, but the smiling seemed to be enough for the both of us.

The bottom image is flipped to make the image look more aesthetically pleasing. However, the bottom image is what the wall looks like that splits the United States and Mexico. The wall in the top photo was painted blue in order to “erase” the wall.

This wall that everyone keeps talking about is ugly both physically and symbolically. It’s brown and metal and not aesthetically pleasing whatsoever. A Mexican-American artist, Ana Teresa Fernández, has painted murals on the wall in different cities at the border. Her project is called, “Borrando la Frontera,” or “Erasing the Border.” Her mural in Nogales is sky blue, meant to look as if the sky had been brought down and the border erased.

We need to believe in the power of our individual talents and abilities to interact with others in a way that can make a lasting impact, even if only for an instant.

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity,” Joseph Addison
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Souvenirs

Everybody knows when you come home from any kind of travel excursion, you bring back souvenirs. Little trinkets, T-shirts, keychains, flags, mugs, postcards, and magnets with the name of your destination typically return home with you. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with bringing home these material things, I have quickly discovered my most important souvenirs from Uganda are not tangible objects.

I’m bringing back the gift of appreciation, and not just the please and thank you kind, a deeper and more fully understood appreciation. I have the opportunity to study and pursue my future career goals when thousands of children simply desire to attend school and receive an education. I drink clean water, eat more than sufficient amounts of food, and live underneath a sturdy roof in a comfortable house. I possess more material objects than I need and do not express my gratitude nearly as often I should.

I’m bringing back a new sense of strength in myself that had been buried in me for a while now. I witnessed the pain and struggling of people who in some ways are not so different from me at all. If they are able to wake up every day and live their lives to the best of their ability, so can I. The human spirit, the will not just to be alive but to live, is a powerful force and feeling that spirit from others reminded me I also needed to find it in myself.

Lastly, I’m bringing back the gift of experience. It is my responsibility to make sure these two weeks of my life do not stay in Uganda forever. Even though it may be uncomfortable or awkward, sharing the hard parts of the trip is just as important as raving about the landscape or seeing a leopard ten feet away from our bus. Sharing my experience with others also allows me to process lingering emotions or questions.

Yes, I bought plenty of physical reminders of Africa and the flag of Uganda will hang in my room for a very long time, but those aren’t the type of gifts I will cherish most.

Keep on keepin’ on,

Gabby

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard