El Paso update 3/14
Today Paulina and I started volunteering at the migrant shelter at the St Francis Xavier parish in El Paso was both productive and relaxing. After catching up on lost sleep from traveling, we ate mango with tajin for breakfast and spent some time with Ignacio and Suzie, two volunteers, and with Fathers Peter and Chano. Sister Betty also welcomed us, knee-deep in sorting through donations but with her smile as bright as always. The few migrants who were there today were helping, so we all worked together and introduced each other in the process. There was lots of laughter, especially from the differing opinions on some of the migrants’ sweatshirt choices. After lunch and bonding with the migrants over trying to figure out the tv settings, we split up to organize clothes and to mop the center’s floor, with the help from a Honduran, who later shared a bit of his life story. Of course, Father Chano decided to interrupt by sending a horde of pigeons our way with his uncanny whistling. Before serving dinner, we practiced English with the migrants and heard an 18-year-old Venezuelan’s heartbreaking but inspiring story. Once it was time to eat, only three migrants were left, and one accidentally came up with a catchy nickname for San Pellegrino water – peligrosa. We’ll see if it’ll stick; we’ll keep you updated.
By Veronika Jaster
El Paso update 3/15
We were glad to start the day with 8am Mass, celebrated by Father Chano. We then ate breakfast with him, Father Ron, and Joe, a veteran and volunteer. The morning was calm, so with our migrant friend Ángel, we took the time to help Sister Betty create Miraculous Medal necklace packages. The threading, knotting, cutting, and folding passed quickly, as we shared funny stories about our travels, schooldays, and reflected on the Good Samaritan. Since we were expecting fifteen migrants to arrive in the afternoon, the four of us cleaned the showers, which required the trial of many cleaning products. Fabuloso finally did the trick. After lunch, the two of us helped Father Chano and some other volunteers with the Covid testing and registration of the new arrivals. Most of them are traveling onwards tonight and tomorrow. We took preparing dinner as a teaching opportunity to introduce Ángel to more English phrases and strange food products, such as fizzy Gogurts and mashed potatoes in the form of flakes. Due to high demand, we switched the “peligrosa” seltzer water for horchata and tamarindo. We ended our day with serving dinner, cleaning the kitchen, and recording an interview with Ángel.
El Paso Update 3/17
We started the day with 8am Mass, and then Ángel helped us cook breakfast for the fifteen other migrants. After breakfast with the priests and some volunteers, Paulina and I did some writing before making lunch. We prepared it as quickly as we could because one of the volunteers, Steve, took us to Chico’s Tacos to try the El Paso signature fast food. Once we arrived back at the shelter, a bunch of us helped Sister Betty break down boxes, and then Father Peter was heading out with a family of four to drive them to the airport, and we got some beautiful pictures as we were saying goodbye. We gathered more great content in an interview with Sister Betty, in which she shared a lot of wisdom and stories about her mission, inspiration, and vocation. Afterwards, we stood outside to enjoy the brief heat from the sunlight that interrupted the recent colder temperatures. While cooking dinner with Ángel, we had fun listening to bachata music and dancing with chicken drumsticks. Once dinner was served, we hung out with the migrants for a bit, and then we ate Whataburgers that one of the volunteers generously bought for us. Dessert was our favorite, mango with tajin. After a long day of cooking meals and sharing experiences, we’re going to bed grateful for today’s adventure.