Our Immigrant Neighbors in Waiting
Written by Anna Hoesly Leader/Pastor/Organizer, Storyline Community
up..This week my kids and I did this 5-minute Lenten activity: The Purple Practice of Waiting, and it ended up going in a direction I did not see coming... Because that's what happens when little people play with big ideas!
For the record, even though it took literally 5 minutes, we didn't get to it until a ten days AFTER the official start of Lent. Also, one of my children was all-in because it sounded like a science experiment, and the other announced that she would not be participating, as an act of protest, because she'd rather be watching My Little Pony. But she ended up joining us... because I am really good at parenting. Orrrrrrrr maybe it was because I told her if she joined us, I'd let her watch said show. All of which I tell you because I think moms owe it to other moms to be honest about these things.
We mixed red and blue food coloring in water to make purple (the traditional color associated with Lent). We talked about how we would leave this glass on the table and check on it at dinner every day, and that it would take about 40 days (the length of time of the Lenten season) for it to evaporate. (This led to a lot of evaporation-related questions, which I could definitely answer because I'm an adult. In unrelated news, here is an evaporation educational video that I totally didn't have to google).
What are we waiting for?
We talked about all kinds of things we wait for in life (like when mommy tells us "not right now" yet again after we've asked her to play Uno for the approximately 987th time"). And we talked about how by the time the water evaporates, it will be Easter and we will have a giant bonfire and 'smores at the Saturday night Easter Vigil. And we talked about how 40 days feels like a loooong time to wait for such exciting things. We talked about how we might feel discouraged or wonder if it is ever going to happen, but slowly, very slowly all of the water will evaporate, even though we can't see it happening.
What are our neighbors waiting for?
And then we asked the final question of the practice, about what things our neighbors in our community might be waiting for. I did not have a preconceived thought about this and honestly thought we would probably move on quickly from it.
But then, as I thought about what it is like to desperately hope and wait for something, a face popped to my mind. It was the face of one my local neighbors who was recently telling me about something she had been waiting a VERY long time for. My neighbor, who is not yet a citizen, has been waiting a very long time for a driver's license. She recently told me with tears what that means for her and her family. It means she is constantly afraid of the moment her daughter gets sick and she cannot drive her to the hospital. It means basic tasks like getting to the store to purchase groceries for her family, or getting to work to earn money to buy those groceries, can become giant obstacles. It means she lives afraid.
I told my kids about this conversation, thinking these would probably be concepts they would not be able to wrap their heads around. Instead, my six-year old looked at me with a gasp and alarm on her face and said something I thought I would never hear her rule-loving, rule-following little self say,
"MOM, that is a VERY bad rule".
"We need to call the police right now and tell them to change it!"
I loved that her immediate reaction was one of empowerment, that we could speak up about this rule on behalf of our neighbors. And even more than that, I loved that particularly at this moment in time, she is right.
NOW is the time to speak up for our neighbors.
Did you know that the Oregon House is considering a bill to make drivers' licenses available to all residents? (Not just citizens). This is HUGE news for our immigrant neighbors who find themselves in dangerous and debilitating situations just trying to care for their children and create safe space for their families. This burden is very real, and these stories are often untold.
Recently, Storyline leaders were able to be at a community organizing event where story after story was shared in a safe and private place: individuals afraid to take their children or ailing parents to the doctor because they do not have a license and fear being separated from their family. One woman who was pulled over on Christmas Eve and was already trembling with the anticipation of the police officer possibly detaining her and taking away her young son in the backseat. Countless others who refuse to drive at night because the statistics of getting pulled over show raised instances of traffic stops that might lead to them being found out. As people of faith, we know that fear is no way to live... and that love of neighbor dictates we hear their stories and share them forward to people in power, like our legislators.
I loved that I could tell my daughter, that we CAN use our voice to speak about our community's "rules", when those rules hurt our neighbors. I was able to tell her about some things Storyline is doing this month to use our voices.
Join us for Advocacy day (and beyond)!
Storyline is participating in Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice's (IMIRJ) Legislative Campaign season. First up, IMIRJ Advocacy Day April 8th at the capital in Salem. Storyline leaders are going! Register here to come with us or email Anna or Sara to let us know you are interested. It can be a space where you get hands on (IMIRJ is putting together educational tools for having conversations with our legislators, set up all the meetings and host spiritual grounding before and after our actions. There are some great resources here on their website if you want to learn more in the meantime!)... OR it may be a space where for now, you join a fun road trip with us and observe and just begin to get comfortable in that setting.
It's an all-day event, but it's also a no-school day for NCSD and PPS, and there are a few other faith communities who are bringing adults, youth, and families who want to lend their voice or their ears. Together at Storyline, we're going to begin to practice telling the story of being called to God's work in the world alongside our children... so if your kids can handle a day of conversation and wandering the capitol building, lets grab our snack packs and books for the car ride and be village together doing God's work!
Watching the water as we wait!
In the meantime, as a family we have chosen that each day at dinner we will look at our purple water, and wait for it to evaporate even though we can't see it happening. We will remember our neighbors who are waiting, and wait alongside them as together we "hope for what we do not yet see".
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