Many years ago, I must have been 19 years old, I became acquainted with "La Frontera"- the border.
A group of youth from a U.S. church and I were visiting a Mexican border town. We were walking around inviting children to an event we had planned. We walked beyond the boundaries of the town until we found a group of scattered houses near the railroad tracks. We found a family of four living in their car, parked by the tracks. The children were running around while their parents told us they were hoping to get across the border. Dreams. They had many dreams of a better life, of constant food on their tables, of education for their children, of having a home. We spoke to them about God, about His Love and yet, I wondered if they were able to see Him in the midst of so much desolation. And so it started my unwilling affair with the border and those who tried to escape the country that I love.
I would go back to the border many times in the following years, finally moving into the city of Reynosa, Mexico to work full time with the mission organization. Dusty, unpaved roads and poor city planning revealed a reluctant town, a town that came to be only as a last stop for those trying to cross the border. It always seemed to me that most residents did not care much about the city, because they were not there to stay. Whether they made it into the Promised Land or not, that was a different story.
For two years I traveled across Mexico and Central America. I found the same stories over and over, people wanting to leave their towns, willing to leave their families for a shot at a better life. I saw villages absent of young men, all gone to find work in U.S. I remember a boy, not older than twelve, a very curious, bright kid. I asked him “what would you like to do when you grow up?” He said something about wanting to be a doctor, but then he said “pero mejor me voy pa’l Norte” – I think I’ll just go up north. His older brothers were gone and he was only waiting for his turn to leave.
They all leave, there is nothing left behind.
My heart is heavy for those who suffer, those who have come across the border, those who are at the gates waiting and those who dream about “El Norte” since childhood.