Our Hearts and Minds have Joined a New Call.
2015 Reflection from Andre Thurmann
Hello everyone, My name is Andre and let me tell you the Tijuana immersion trip was an amazing experience. Although this is my first time going, I have been involved with the ministry for quite some time through the various car washes and garage sales. My mom has been a leader from some of its earliest years, and my dad and sister have also been involved and have gone on multiple trips. So finally going my first year was very exciting for me. I was really surprised when I saw the economical difference from our lifestyles to theirs. Yes I did hear the stories and I had the common sense to know that they were not as fortunate, but when you see it first hand, it’s a whole mother perspective. Throughout the week I got to talk to and learn the stories of the people through various events such as the visit to casa de migrante, aids clinic, and the childrens program that we hosted. And I remember my mom saying, “Are you sure you want to go, because you’ll be ruined for life”. And what she meant by that was that when you see the daily struggles that we aren’t accommodated through, you can’t go back to the daily life that you once had and not think of what you saw and heard.
For example, the heart wrenching stories of Alley. She is a 15-year-old girl who lives in Tijuana but studies in San Diego. Each school day, she wakes up at 4:30am so she can take a bus, make deals with the street vendors so she can get to the front of the line, and then find a stranger, get into his car, so he can take her across the border. All this, just to get to school. And then there is the story of Giovani -- who has to take care of his young siblings as young as 3 years old. He is never allowed to have friends over or go to their house because he has to take care of the younger kids. So when he finally came to our kids program, he was overjoyed when he saw that there was a separate children’s and teens program. So he could finally enjoy some free time for himself. This is something that we take for granted.
But how does all this connect to what we heard in the readings today?
So let me tell you a little story. Like Father Saju always does.
One day an old man walks onto a beach and finds millions of starfish stranded there after a big storm. He also sees a young boy who is throwing them -- one by one -- back into the water. The old man asks the boy, “Why are you even doing this? There are so many. You are barely going to make a difference.” But the boy simply picks up one more starfish and throws it back in the ocean. Then he says, “For that one …..it just made a difference”.
Well, poverty in Tijuana is like seeing a beach full of stranded starfish. You may look at it all and say ‘there is no way that we can help all those people. We are just a little group of people from St Julie’s and other parishes. We could lose hope and not even try to help at all. Because poverty is such a big problem.But the point is that we just need to do “something” and then God multiplies our efforts. We just have to be open and generous. The disciples told Jesus that there was not enough food to go around. But Jesus took the little amount that they gave him, and he made so much that he fed 5,000 people and there was even more food left over.
And so through the Tijuana ministry, we have done a little every year. And it makes a huge difference. We built 5 houses this year. All together, we built homes for 32 families and a school for disabled kids and a church. And we gave hope to kids like Alley and Giovani. And all the support you give us as well as the donations make this all possible.
Thank you for giving me the chance to go to Tijuana. Like my mom says, “now I am ruined for life.”