Border wall between McAllen, Texas and Reynosa, Mexico
This past September, Designed For Joy led a mission team to McAllen, Texas along the US Mexico border with send organization, Border Perspectives. Our goal was to serve the local community, contribute to the valuable work being done, as well as learn more about the intricacies of immigration policy. This service learning trip was designed to immerse our team into the daily realities faced by immigrant communities through first hand interactions.
We traveled along the South Texas border to visit important places and historical landmarks. This part of the trip allowed our group to give our group a visual understanding of our southern border, the hardships of the terrain and put in context the region we often only hear about.
We had the opportunity to take a boat ride down the Rio Grande River. While floating between the United State and Mexico, our team experienced the geographical and emotional divide that this body of water symbolizes for many seeking a better life.
Our team learned from Border Patrol agents about our ever evolving immigration policies gaining valuable insight into the complexities of immigrating to the United States. We supported local border organizations like Border Missions, Team Brownsville, and Catholic Charities Respite Center to witness firsthand the tireless efforts to assist migrants seeking asylum in the United States. These organizations operate on the frontlines to provide humanitarian aid and assistance to migrants and asylum seekers that are navigating the complexity of border crossings.
Our mission team returned home with the knowledge of what it means to listen, learn, and advocate for compassion and dignity for our neighbors.
"I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me." Matthew 25:35
“This was a life changing experience. I was able to learn from the DFJ & Border Perspectives what loving your neighbor really is. Being able to see 1st hand versus what we get fed from social media & the news what immigration really is at the border was eye opening. It was a humbling experience; I was able to witness what the mission was all about. Serving with purpose... A fond memory- A family of a mom and 2 daughters that came from Guatemala, crossed the border, we met them at Catholic Charities and then we had the privilege of escorting them to their families. True reunification in Raleigh, NC. Our hearts are full, and we can be grateful for this opportunity.”
“When you see a child or family in need in front of you, the politics go out the window. Filling their human needs for food and clothing comes first. I was honored to be a small part of their journey to a better life. These moments to welcome our neighbors will have a lasting impact in their lives.”
“Truly an amazing experience to serve alongside the team of Border Perspective. Their service-learning approach intentionally placed the Design for Joy Team into the lives of immigrant leaders serving families on the U.S. and Mexico Border. It truly was an experience I will never forget. By the end of the week, I was able to better understand how I can care for the needs of the immigrant population in my own community. I left feeling equipped and empowered to connect my experience to a real lasting impact.”
"I left with an understanding of what it truly means to welcome someone to our table, to our homes, to our ministries, and to our country. Learning about gaps in our system can leave you feeling helpless and unequipped, but there is power in inviting someone new to your table, even when we don't share the same language. I am so grateful for this opportunity and reminder to love our neighbors better."
“From the Old Testament through the New, God shows his heart for the migrant. Deuteronomy 10:19 says, "you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt." We had many opportunities to love migrants in South Texas and boy did we do it. From handing out clothing to families who were weary and mudstained from their journey through the treacherous Darien Gap, to distributing diapers to a two month old born in Mexico while her mother journeyed to the United States to befriending and helping migrant families to their gates at the airport on our way home. We loved big on this trip to South Texas. What a profound opportunity to obey God's command to "love those who are aliens." I pray that you may be inspired by this blog post to love our migrant community.”
“The learning/serving trip to McCallen, Texas was both brutal and beautiful. There was brutality in the realization of all that the sojourners experience, both along the way and the complications of a broken system. Meeting a woman that had traveled alone and was 36 weeks pregnant caused me to wonder if I would do the same, and also to wonder what her future would hold. I had no answers for her as tears streamed down her face. Although our native language was different, our circumstances incomparable, as moms wanting the best for our children, we were really not that different. I saw beauty in the local community caring for those that had been foreigners, but now neighbors. Sharing what they had, depending on community donations to meet the needs. I came home different, with a sense of urgency to care for those around me that are unseen or unnoticed, and don't know their literal way forward. I can't help the masses, but I can help the one. And I'll start there!”
Designed For Joy Mission Team
Farewell dinner at Pastora's home