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No Longer Foreigners, But Fellow Citizens

I would like to invite you into the world of one of my friends and share her story with you. Please, would you get yourself a warm cup of tea, a fuzzy blanket, and sit down in the most comfy of chairs, because this story is not going to be an easy one.

This story starts with a mama and her two little daughters, living in Michoacan, Mexico. Let’s just stop there and Google where that is together, why don’t we?

As you’ll see, Michoacan is the monarch butterfly’s winter home. It is also the world’s #1 Avocado producer. What you will also find is the travel advisory for the area. “Michoacán state – Level 4: Do Not Travel”.

Now that we’ve done a little homework, let’s get back to our story. Mama, whom I will call Sarah, grew up surrounded by family, tias y tios (aunts and uncles) living as neighbors on each side, abuelitos (grandparents) right down the street in the corner house… the one with the lovely garden out front.  She shared with me stories of how her abuela (Grandma) would prepare delicious enchiladas stuffed with potatoes and carrots and on special occasions “palace rolls,” a triangular shaped corn dumpling served with sour cream and poblano peppers.

Sarah grew up to be a young woman, met a man and had two lovely daughters: Bianca and Rosy.  As time went on, her town became more overrun with violence and unlike the proverbial frog-in-pot, she and her boyfriend, Juan, decided it was time to get out for the sake of her daughters’ safety. Juan traveled first making his way across the border… but we’ll leave his story aside to focus more on Sarah and her girls. As soon as Sarah had heard that Juan was settled, she readied herself, Bianca, 3 years old, and Rosy, 1.5, for the trip. She paid the coyote $8,500 to prepare false documents for her girls and make the travel arrangements for their long journey and with the little money she had extra, she bought each of them a doll to accompany them on the long trip. Together they all set out on a long bus ride up toward the border. Upon arriving, Sarah told me with tears in her eyes that she was instructed to drug her daughters with a medication that would make them pass out so that as they passed through border patrol they would not be able to answer any questions incorrectly that the guards might ask.

I’d like to pause here for a moment and grieve that moment with Sarah.

Can you imagine putting your most precious possessions into the hands of a “smuggler” whom you’ve never met, and then send it to a foreign country without the assurance that you will ever see it again?!?

It pains my heart as a mother to think on these things. There she was placing her little sleeping girls into the back seat of the car, kissing them goodbye, and placing their dolls on each of their laps. It pains my heart as a mother to think on these things. There she was placing her little sleeping girls into the back seat of the car, kissing them goodbye, and placing their dolls on each of their laps.

And just like that she was left to cross the border. She shared with me that she waded across the river, walked by night through the desert, avoiding at all cost being spotted by patrollers, and made her way into Texas. “This was the easiest part of my journey,” she says. “The coyotes would not give me my daughters back unless I paid them more money.

Sarah shared with me how she had to pay even more to her “smuggler” so that he would tell her where her daughters were. She paid. “What was hard was to find my daughters in an empty house, sitting on a couch. When I found them, they both cried and cried. They wouldn’t stop crying.” With tears pouring down her face, she tells me that little Rosy would not let Sarah out of her sight for weeks following the ordeal.

Talking with both Rosy and Bianca, they now don’t recall those fateful events, and I pray that they never will, but it has stayed engrained in their mother’s mind till this day, 15 years later. 

Now, I know there is a wide array of political views about the border and illegal immigration, but what we often forget is that these political issues are attached to human faces – followers of Jesus who are part of our church family!

I’m blessed to serve with Gaby here at CHBC and with the Hispanic church family. This is one story of many that exist within our church family. Want to get to know these families more deeply and minister to them? I’d like invite you to learn Spanish, come get to know these brothers and sisters, and share with them the love of Jesus.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.

Ephesians 2:19

Katie Correa is a member of CHBC and wife to Gaby Correa – minister to our Chapel Hill Bible Church en Español (CHBCe). Katie faithfully serves alongside Gaby to minister to our Spanish church family through leading our ESL ministry and discipling others.

Katie received her M.A. in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College and served as a missionary overseas before moving to Chapel Hill to marry and start a family. Gaby and Katie have 3 boys – JR, Xander, and Judah.