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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Emergency Declared, Mission Trip Meeting Canceled

We will try to reschedule the meeting scheduled for today, December 12, for our first opportunity in January, likely January 9

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Time to get Committed: Reminder of Meeting This Sunday, 12-12.

Hello All

This Sunday's meeting at 5 pm is for all youth participants on the June 2011 trip and their parents. In preparation for the meeting, please see the forms that should be filled out located over on the right hand side of this blog. PLEASE BRING THEM COMPLETED TO THE MEETING. Also, we expect to collect a deposit check for $75, which will all go toward the deposit required at DOOR.

In addition to forms and such, we will be joined by Armando Comacho, the president of Neighborhood House in St. Paul, a 110-year-old social services agency located in the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Center on the West Side. Neighborhood House is very representative of the groups we will serve in Denver in the summer, and you all will want to hear Armando talk about his mission.

Finally, the post card did not say it but each family should bring a meal for themselves as well as a little bit extra, Feeding the 5000 style, for families or participants who did not quite get the word or forgot. We want all to be fed.

Thanks. See you Sunday

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mission Trip Youth to be Peacemakers at the October 17 Lunch and Learn

Dear 2010 Mission Trip Parents, Participants and Interested Adults,

The AZ mission trip youth have been invited by the Peacemakers to be guest speakers at the October 17 Lunch & Learn right after church in the Plymouth Room. The Peacemakers will be hosting this event, providing food and beverages. In addition, because the Peacemakers really value the insights of the youth, they would like to pay a $125 honorarium (like they would for guest speakers) to the youth to be put towards the 2011 mission trip. 

The Peacemakers would like the youth to specifically address 1. ways that our church can be more responsive to the needs of immigrants in our midst, and 2. what could or should we be doing to promote justice here in our own community? Two of the youth, Maddie S. and Charlie, have volunteered to lead this presentation. If you are a 2010 mission trip participant, please come to support Maddie and Charlie, and to add to the conversation with your own ideas. Looking forward to seeing you there! 

Lauren Baske Davis

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Adult Ed Discussion on the Web

A few of the youth volunteered to provide the adult education session last Sunday with a discussion of the mission trip this past summer. It was well attended, quite informative and well received. Jim J. was kind enough to videotape the session and you can see highlights of the discussion on the web at:  Church Video Web Site

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Events update -- things are moving


Youth Mission Trip Service, THIS SUNDAY. Meet at 9.30.

Mission Trip update at Youth Fellowship, 5 - 7 pm.


Updating Page for 2011 Mission Trip

Page being updated for 2011 Mission Trip.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Good morning,
Yesterday we went to the border near Sausabe, a small desert town west of Nogales. We picked up Holy Trash along the wall and into the desert. The wall here is tall iron pipes about 3" diameter and about 4" apart. You can see through the wall to Mexico. We drove down a sandy dirt track, stopped, walked and picked up holy trash for a while and then drove farther east to do it again. My car stopped at a dirt hill and got out. There stuck halfway through the fence was a dead deer. It had gotten its head through and gotten stuck--half in Mexico, half in the US. For me that was the definition of the wall--a place where things get stuck and movement can't happen.

I wanted to share with all the parents comments from the Border Links staff. Several have stopped me to tell me how much they have been amazed by our group--how engaged, passionate and insightful they are. They also appreciated how much the youth knew about the issues and how much they wanted to learn more. I agree! Listening to them and talking with them about everything we have seen and done has been a highlight of my week.

The Complete Package

The Wall will not be forgotten,
The Shackles will not be forgotten,
The Immigrants will not be forgotten,
The Helicopters will not be forgotten.

However, today I found the Hope. We are the hope. We are the ones who wake up at 5:00 am to walk the desert looking for Holy Trash. We are the ones who have the ability to change the way things are. This may be the simplistic part about this trip. That we can help--in any way and for however long.


P.S. Natasha-- you would be proud, I channeled my inner Natasha during my wrestling match. Love you mucho!
We have experienced so much that we can't blog fast enough.

  • We've experienced heat so intense that we couldn't stay outside for an hour without someone passing out, yet we know people have walked through this inferno for DAYS.
  • We have seen that no matter how militant and unwelcoming and racist our culture may be, the people of Nogales rushed to our rescue when we collapsed in the sun.
  • We watched people efficiently "processed" in groups for deportation--with intentional, individual attention given to assuring that they understand their situation--yet we have seen that their attorneys may not even know their name and they are given 20 seconds for their personal case.
  • We have met people in Tucson who founded the Sanctuary Movement, people who are passionate about the rights of the oppressed, people who have met weekly for over ten years to remember those migrants who died crossing.
  • We talked with men and women who are homeless or illegally in the US, who enjoyed sharing their persona of needing a new pair of glasses but being too blind, too debilitated by hepatitis C, l stories of sleeping outside for 13 years in the same "safe" place, of working for unions, of being too debilitated by Hep C, cirrhosis and blindness to find a new pair of glasses.
  • We walked the desert in the places they walked, filling the water tanks and picking up the empty water bottles--and went back to all the water we could possibly ever want, without thinking.
And we learned:
  • That it's a good thing to recognize racism--to understand white privilege and -- yes -- to feel some guilt for the luck of the draw that makes us members of that privileged group. Because we did nothing to deserve it and we feel guilty for being treated so "special."
  • We learned that there are many symbols of racism-- the laws passed to enable local police to stop people because of the color of their skin; the casual wave-through by Border Guards who look only at our white faces.
  • We learned that people of passion can risk everything to support the rights of oppressed people--and that those people can be our role models, defeating our cynicism and hopelessness about systemic change.
  • We learned that we can create moments of sanctuary for people by being there when they are in need, ministering to their most basic needs for survival and safety, their needs for self-esteem and belonging by sharing with them, listening, caring. witnessing their pain.
It's only part of the story, but if this were the whole story, it would be more than enough to justify our church's support, our hard work, and our time. There is growth in experiences and in learning from experiences. And perhaps...just will also lead to actions that make us act on what we have seen and thought. We owe it to the migrants, the Sanctuary people, Border Links, Humane Borders, Cross Street Ministries--and to ourselves!

Here's to continuing the work!

Friday, June 25, 2010

I feel as though my last blog posting was a little negative, so I want to end the night by saying that tonight, we experienced what was (for me at least) the most powerful part of the trip. We went to a vigil that takes place every Thursday night, and has been for the last ten years. It is in honor of all those whose lives have been lost crossing the desert, and those who continue to be forced to cross. Seeing all of the people there, from teenagers to seniors, who are so completely devoted to the cause was unbelievable. There's still hope, you know?


PS: Still sending love.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Crosses along the road

Hi everyone, this is sari again!
We went on our second water run today- out to the middle of the desert. It took us about 40 minutes of highway driving and then at least two hours total of off-road driving. maybe more. Too bad the Chevy Suburbans do not have 4-wheel drive.
Susanna is a great driver and our car had lots of fun joking and laughing during the ride. We took lots of pictures and told lots of stories and even tried opening the window and poking our heads out a few times without getting hit by prickly branches. It was one long roller coaster ride, but if a truck carrying huge tanks of water can barrel at that speed through the rocky dips and ruts, then we should be able to keep up too.
As we neared the water stations, we began to see some signs of life- remnants of a camp fire, empty water bottles and dusted over backpacks. It was a sad sight. Some of the water tanks were empty, some were still full, some were full of bullet holes. But we went about our work and only got a few minor cactus pokes;
"I touched the cactus and it poked me!" -maddie
It was fun to get caught up in conversations in the car, but one could not help but notice the stark white crosses along the sides of the roads. Some with flowers, some with sayings. There were few, but the car always seemed to get a little quieter when passing by one. Sometimes, one gets so captivated by the beauty of the landscape and the comfort of friends that they do not realize what loss of life still lingers; the crosses are small reminders.
So we give thanks for the life we have and our privileges, we give thanks for our knowledge even though sometimes it seems more of a burden, we give thanks for our ability to help others, and we continue about our mission. And we pray a lot. We pray for people crossing the desert, we pray for those who are living in fear of deportation, and we pray for the sullen faces of the migrants shackled in the court room.
We bring no weapons to the desert (on our missions) ; we bring life, we bring water, we bring love. And hope.
So pray for us and we'll be home soon, but small reminders will remain when we return- our own crosses along the road.
all my love,

6 O'Clock and All is well

We know this is prime blog reading time in St. Paul. Almost all are visiting the Dinkytown of Tucson, to buy...something. Norm and I just came back from laying in essential supplies -- 10 gallons of water, two family sized bags of Doritos, and items for breakfast and lunch. Today we all went way into the desert with Humane Borders, and tomorrow we all head out early for a day of picking up sacred migrant trash. This is stuff that gets left behind by the migrants working their way back toward the Tucson area after crossing west of Sasabe, Sonora, where the wall stops. While in the desert you always think of one thing: How can anybody survive this trip?

This is the hottest week of the year in Tucson, and the temp in the dungeon (Norm, Tom, Charlie and Jack with me) never gets below 85 degrees. It was 88 at 8 am in downtown Tucson and was 105 when we were in the desert before lunch. For our trip out tomorrow we are leaving early, with a 5:15 AM wakeup. This will cut into the adult coffee time, unless we set alarms for 4 AM. Much as Norm and I enjoy each other's company along with Marsha and Susanne et al, we have agreed that ain't happening.

I want to report that we are all well. Some of the younger youth are really stepping up and getting comfortable with responsibility. Some of the veterans started out feeling that there was not enough direct service -- so much classroom. Today, they are all utterly engaged. Trust me, lives are being changed.

We have had a few of the usual challenges. A bump, a scrape, a little outburst of crabbiness here and there. Youth forgetting to show for a work detail. The dorms are mini garbage houses. And, oh yeah, we had a face plant. But these issues are trivial in light of what we are facing and learning and feeling as we see God's children in shackles and imaging them out there, in the desert. And what should we as disciples do about this?

Your adult team is fine. We ain't as young as we used to be but there is a lot of fight left in us. And we, youth and adults, have so much more to tell you all when we arrive back in St. Paul. That's when the work needs to continue.

Lee (with Norm as Editor)
I cannot believe how many appalling things I have seen on this trip. Life-saving water stations are shot or knifed on a regular basis. Cultural studies have been banned in Arizona schools, and charter schools that provide minority students a safe-place to be well-educated have been shut down. Towns have been split in half by walls that are designed to keep Mexicans from even seeing the lifestyles that we enjoy. Desperate people, from the sexually abused to the unimaginably poor are forced to trek through the deserts that our youth group couldn't last for half an hour in.

I know that these aren't easily solved problems, and that there's more than one side to every issue. But there is no reason to dehumanize people or to effectively kill them. Because that is what I have seen people doing every single day here. Our current system is a death sentence for thousands of people, and nobody can argue differently.

Among the things that really gets me is the fact that the United States is responsible for SO many of the problems that drive people to come here illegally. We have created instability in nations around the World for decades, but nowhere is this more visible than in South America. From U.S.-backed wars to economic agreements that ruin life for millions (hem hem, NAFTA), our country is responsible for incredible amounts of devastation. I think that it's just about time that we as an entire country realized this, and found ways to make amends for what we have done and continue to do.

Anyways, this trip is going pretty well. I'm hot. But who isn't? The food has also improved substantially from the Subway and gross ham sandwiches. Big ups to Susannah and whoever decided to make egg salad.

Chris, Connie, Kelly, I miss you and love you all muchisimo.
After two wonderful entries written by Maddie and Caroline, I just wanted to add my own bit to the powerful day that we had yesterday. Sorry if it's long!

As we were standing and looking at the wall art in Nogales, Mexico, I became a witness to something that I didn't think that I was going to witness on this trip. I saw 4 trucks with 4 "Policia" each in them. Now I am fine with seeing police but the thing was, these Police were not the run of the mill police. THESE guys had loaded machine guns complete with bullet-prof FACE MASKS and full body armor. As these police were driving down the street, I finally realized how real the issue of immigration is and how complex it is. These police were here because of the drug cartels in Nogales. For those of you who don't know, Nogales is currently in a turf war between the different drug cartels. And the drug cartels are assassinating the Policia. Which is why they are in Nogales.

The border area is a war-zone. Now it's a low level one, but it's a war zone. For the past two nights, I have seen border patrol helicopters fly over Tucson with search lights looking/following immigrants. I have seen Border Patrol not even care what I am up to because I am white. I have been though many Border Patrol checkpoints MILES from the border. I have seen so much racism and hatred and tension between Americans and Mexicans. I have seen loaded machine guns 10 feet from my face. I feel like I am in a war-zone and I am scared. No joke. I didn't realize that there is a low-level war zone in my country's own back yard. I am so mad that I didn't realize this until yesterday when I went to Mexico. And then I started to think that if every politician/person went to the Border and SAW what I saw yesterday, this issue of immigration will better solved and solved faster. It makes me SO MAD that I can't see a clear answer to immigration and I have decided that I want to work on this issue even more and I want to help find a way to fix this.

This morning we went on water runs with Humane Borders. This was AMAZING and I couldn't image the immigrants being able to cross the desert without water. As Karl from Humane Borders said--"When I found out that people were dying in my backyard, I knew I had to do something about it". And this is what I found out yesterday as I was standing in the 100 degree heat in Mexico by a wall that is causing so many deaths.


P.S. Hey Hey fam and love you-- I am so thankful that I was able to grow up in a household without violence and with a great sense of security. I am so happy for that.
I thought about putting some pictures on the blog tonight, but I chose not to and would prefer that you read the written entries below. A few of our youth have expressed our day today, better than any number of pictures. Please read the entries below, they are long but really worth the time.


Where do I begin?

Today was incredible. Hands down best day of the trip.

This whole week has been an educational experience, that hit me. But I don't think everything really sunck in until today when we went to Nogales, Mexico. Ever since we got home from Mexico I have been in tears because it is my way of processing this whole thing. Being white in Mexico felt AWFUL. It felt like I was flaunting all the privilages that I had that they didn't just because I was white. Seeing how constricting the wall was- tragic. Seeing the police with loaded rifles and bullet proof body gear on, up to their faces masks- unbelievable. Seeing the poverty- horendous. But what really hit me was when we were on our way home and we had to stop at a checkpoint. The guard asked Lee "are you an all american citizen?" He responded yes, and we drove away. That was when the race line really became apparent. When the privilages that white people have over Mexicans was really clear. Marsha didn't even need a passport to get in and out of Mexico for gods sake. Why? Because she was white. It makes me feel awful to feel white. But after many tears, talking to Maddie, Marge, and Susanne what I decided is that this WILL be my future. And I WILL use all my power as a white woman to help these migrants. How? I don't know. But Marge assured me that the perfect job will find me, and Maddie and Susanne assured me that I will be successful in whatever I do. Maddie told me that her mom told her long ago that the key to success is "empathy" and that I have an unbelievable amount of empathy. That made me feel good, and assured me that I will be successful in solving the immigration policy, and reforming the system. I am so incredibly thankful for ALLLLLLL the support the youth group and it's adults have given me. I couldn't get through this heart wrenching experience without them all.

Yes, Maddie fainted. I used my spanish to get water from the store accross the street. All the adults and Mexican people were by her side in less than two seconds to help her. The care she got from the Mexican people was outstanding. They had NO obligation to treat us with such respect and be so helpful to us. Yet, they are our brothers and sisters, they are no different from us no matter their skin color, and I can't say this for all americans but I would run and be by their sides in a heartbeat had this happened to them. I am so thankful for them all.

That is all for now. Thanks for reading this all. We have an exciting day tomorrow. Love and miss you all!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Nogales, and the "Mishaps"

Alright, adults, I'm going to ask you NOT to stop reading when we get to the juicy stuff.

Today we went to Nogales, Mexico. And it was an experience, the kind of experience that we don't forget. For a couple of different reasons.

Nogales isn't just one city. "Nogales" WAS one city, devided almost down the middle by a road. Your boyfriend, job, siblings, and even your church may be on the other side of the road from where you live. That used to matter very little - people crossed the street all the time. Then Border Patrol turned into a massive, military movement. Those kinds of relationships stopped.

The Mexican and American sides of Nogales are separated by a fence more than 15 feet high. We were coming to visit the wall and the resistance art that local sculptors and photographers had hung on the wall. There were "milagros", or "miracles". Normally, when a Mexican family wants to send up a special prayer, they place a "milagros" on a cross. The ones on the wall were huge - metal images of skulls lying next to a cactus, buses filled with skeletons, and a sun that sprouted knives and swords instead of rays of light.

Then there was a large sculpture of bodies, dashing up and across a border on a stripe of fire. The bodies were all painted. The ones heading for the border held instruments and paintings - culture. The ones going across the border were being chased by a body painted with the face of the patron saint of "coyotes" (coyotes being the often abusive guides who lead immigrants across the border), who was carrying a club. The one just over the border had a skeleton painted inside it. The ones in America were painted in subdued colors, and were being chased by someone from border control, shouting at them in Latin. Whether that's an allusion to the Roman Empire ... that's up to anyone's interpretation.

Adults, here's the juicy bit.

It was 110 degrees stading in front of that wall, and I began to feel a little woozy. You know what's coming. Poor Maddie did a face plant - fainted completely away. But I don't want that to be the focus. I was okay. Perfectly fine, in fact.

I awoke to Caroline, tapping my knee and telling me to "get up". Dad, Lee, was next to me, splashing water on my face. The adults were all around me. Matt took my backpack and sat me up, offered me water.

I expected that. What I didn't expect was the people in Nogales to respond.

The instant I fell over a truck pulled up. Two men, I'm told, leaned out the window - horribley concerned. They asked to take me to the hospital. The adults declined politely, but the woman running to shop across the street had noticed me, and dashed over with rubbing alcohol for my face, ice for my neck, and a coke to replenish my blood sugar. The people in the shop ran back and forth from where I was sitting, talking me through standing and replenishing my energy - leading me back to the shade near their store.

A man in a car stopped in front of me and smiled, handing me a Gatorade. I struggled through my light-headedness to tell them "voy a nunca olvidarte". Something close to, "I will never forget you".

Sitting in the shade, after my head had cleared, it wasn't the fainting that scared me. It was the idea that, somewhere in the desert, someone else had fainted. And when they woke up, if they woke up, they wouldn't have a Caroline. Everyone needs a Caroline. Everyone.

Adults, family members, boyfriends. I ... didn't even last an hour.

That's why we're down here. That's what needs to change. No one should be in the desert, alone, frightened, and without a Caroline. They shouldn't have to die. They shouldn't be alone. They shouldn't even have to CROSS.

I'm sure that other people will cover the rest of our trip to Nogales. That certainly wasn't the only interesting thing that happened.

Thanks for reading all the way through. Thanks for reading at all.

P.S. I'm okay. Really. Alive and well. Bouncing off the walls, in fact (we just had rootbeer floats). All adults - stay calm. We're all okay.

Wow, all I can say is WOW.

This is Lily, and today was a really intense day, a lot going on. This morning, who speakers came in, and we learned about the process immigrants go through when they are discovered and what not, and we also heard from a teacher at the Cesar Chavez School, which teaches a lot of immigrant children and quite a few undocumented, and she shared a few stories, and I thought it was really interesting. With her she had brought a 13 year-old student, and she spoke to us about how her father was deported and what that entailed and that was one of the times it kind of became real, because you don't really think it actually happens until you meet someone who's family has been through that hardship and stuggle.

Then this afternoon, we went into Nogales, Mexico and it was a whole different experience. We saw all the artwork on the border and what it is really like there. The shocking thing was that the wall went right through who towns, and it's like, you could see yur neighbor one day, and the next, you have to cross borders to even say hello. We had some mishaps today, which I'm sure Maddie Schafer will tell you about, because I think she is going to blog next, but all I want to say, is that people there, although they have been through all this crap, are the most kind, courteous people, and they did things that I'm sure that if it happened here, people would DRIVE BY and not do ANYTHING about it.

One last thing, the way Border Patrol treats people, based on their skin color, it was just freaking ATTROCIOUS. I was indefinitely shocked by how prejuduced people can be, and seeing this first hand, I got a whole new outlook on this, and overall, I am really glad I got to experience this today.

I am really enjoying this whole experience, and I am glad I came. No rattlesnakes yet...
Love all of you back in Minnesota.
Lily Brown


Hey blog followers this is Henry B and this is my check-in.

It is lunchtime here on our 4th day here at Border Links and I am having a great time. Today so far we have had two people come in and talk to us.

We had a woman from the Florence Project come and tell us about this amazing group of lawyers, legal aides, and social workers who defend some illegal immigrants when they cannot afford one. These immigrants range from Central Americans, to Africans, to young unaccompanied children. Because the government puts illegal entry into the civil system they do not have the right to a free attorney. She went in depth about the whole process and I admit a lot of the legal jargon went over my head. All things said it was a fascinating experience.

The second speaker was a teacher from the Ceaser Chavez Learning Center, a charter school in South Tucson. South Tucson is an impoverished area where many immigrants live, both legal and undocumented, as well as families who have lived there for generations. This school provided an alternative learning style to those who had not learned well in public schools. From the way she described it, this school sounds amazing. They have taken trips to Mexico, Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon, and many other locations. They have a fantastic ethnic studies program that has recently been banned by the state of Arizona. The school has also been very politically active, participating in marches and protests. Unfortunately, many of the students have recently been participating in the schools programs because of fear of being picked up by border patrol. The teacher who came to talk to us estimated that over 50% of the student body was here undocumented. The speaker also brought along a soon-to-be 8th grader from the Ceasar Chavez Learning Center. The student told us her story about having a father who was deported twice and who is currently living in Mexico with his mother and siblings. She also expressed her love for the school and the atmosphere that had surrounded it. The most disheartening news came when the two informed us that the Ceasar Chavez Learning Center was being shut down because of budget cuts. Hundreds of disadvantaged kids would be separated and moved to different public schools around South Tucson.

Well that was my morning. We are now off to Nogales, Mexico! I am exited to see the border situation including the border patrol and some of the border art I have been hearing about.

Everything's good mom.
Henry Bushnell

Pictures from Tuesday

Tuesday the entire group did an "Immigration Simulation" in the morning. Families picked beans (fill up a cup one at a time) to pay for food and housing, but the oppressive land owners forced them to lose money and have to borrow.
Family members were forced to either move to the Mexico side of the border (and work in "NAFTA" factories) or pay a Coyote to lead them to America for work. Gotta love the Coleman Border Patrol:
Check out the rest of the photos on the link on the right. Tuesday starts about page 7. In the afternoon, 1/2 the group went to court (as Clara blogged about) while the rest of us visited the San Xavier mission. Then it was into the pool to cool off and play "Sheep swimming across the ocean???"

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What We've Got

I hate Bon Jovi. Let it be said that "Living on a Prayer" is the most obnoxious, over-played song EVER to be played on CD mixes. I am in no way supporting the addition of this track to future Mission Trip Mixes.

That said, Bon Jovi got a couple of things right. "We've gotta hold on to what we've got".

What we've got:
A couple of cliques
A couple of arguments
A few "jokesters" who should be left in the desert to roast
A few hard workers
Some water
Some water NAZIS (is your pee clear? Is it? IS IT?)
And some really awesome opportunities.

Alright, it's a bit of an up-hill battle. But we're holding on. Our pee is clear.



As I was watching over 55 illegal immigrants being tried and deported in court today, I saw a young man probably about 20 years old walk by with a shirt on that said "PRAY" as he was being deported. This shirt pretty much sums up what these people rely on, their faith. This court trail really helped me realize that immigration is a REAL issue and there are people out in the desert RIGHT NOW that are crossing the desert. And these people are risking their lives to come and make a better life here in America. However, life doesn't seem to much better here for these people who were at the trail. The hardest part of this trail was seeing the people in shackles. Hearing the shackles every couple of seconds was a constant reminder that we need to fix the immigration system here.


Day 3, and all is well

Today we did an immigration simulation which was so much more amazing than I expected. There were people who were the landowners in Mexico, America, and Borderland. There was someone who we "bought" food from, a western union, border patrol, and of course migrant families.

Sari, Tom, Ellie, Marge, and I were in the Valencia Family. We had to take a loan out from the banker to buy the "supplies" to start our garden. We took a loan out of 50 pesos and we had to pick beans one by one to fill the cup to the brim. Once the brim was full we could turn it in to the landowner for 100 pesos. With the money we made off the filled cups we had to buy food, pay back the debt, and possibly pay a coyote, or bus to take us to the borderland or America. So, we continued to fill the cups in the hot sun until we had enough money. We found that the easiest way to succeed was to cheat. We stole supplies, food, and filled the cups by the handfuls, and snuk across the border without the help of a coyote or a bus. Once to America my entire family got caught by the border patrol and were sent back to America. I found that I was scared by the unknown. The unknown of not knowing the whereabouts of my family. This simulation really opened my eyes to all the expenses a migrant faces, and why they end up migrating to America in the first place. I really enjoyed this experience.

We then went to the court house and watched 55+ migrants- who were chained by the ankles, and hands be deported back to their countries. It was heartbreaking. The saddest case was when a migrant was deported even though he had grown up and graduated from highschool here. America was his home. He had no connections in Mexico. While the trials were somewhat boring, this was a good thing to see. I think everyone needs to see this to see how so little thought is put into the deportation process. It is quick, and no exceptions are made. It is clear that the immigration system needs reform.

We went to the pool. All is well. The group is a little tense, but I hope that changes.

Miss and Love you all!

Hey mom! I just wanted to reassure you that as we set off on our second day of hard labor, I promise to wear my hat. So far none of us have died of heat stroke or seen anything resembling a scorpion, so things are good. I love you and I'll see you all soon.


Monday, June 21, 2010

For the Beauty of the Desert

I worked in the desert today refilling water stations. During the drive, my group listened to Spanish radio, read, or slept (we had to get up at 5:30!) In the harsh landscape of the Sonoran desert, I thought of Immigrants who may be looking back, unseen by us, as we drove by in our shiny Chevy Suburbans. How could people walk for three days in this heat when we shied away from mere minutes out in the sun? It's still unfathomable to me.
The filling stations were all pretty close to the road with the exception of one. We left most of the group with the suburbans and six of us joined the group of four in the water truck. Obviously we all couldn't fit in to the cab... So as I clung on to a bouncing, rocking truck which I was on the back of, I realized how insane I was to volunteer to go along. Three miles through the desert with three other people on the back of a water truck with a notable lack of good hand holds (much less any sort of grate or truck bed which to sit on) seems much longer when you're dodging trees and cacti that hang over the road. But in the midst of the gripping journey I saw more and more of the beauty in the barren ground, the squat cacti, and the otherworldly rocks that thrust themselves into the sky on the horizon. The spectacle spoke to me of the tenacity with which life, all life, will cling to its existence and subsist. It may not be spectacular to look at, but it is there and it thrives.

Matt Dickinson
Hey Everyone!

Today was a great day!! Part of the group went to cross street ministries, which provides food and showers and clothing for homeless people in Tuscon. Many of these homeless people are migrants-- the majority of whom are un-documented. It was so touching to hear all of the people who came though say their thanks and say that we were made their day. I was most touched by these two little girls who were there with their mother. It was very sad to see that they had to live in a situation where they needed to be receiving food for this ministry. Cross street ministries also provides day labor for workers on a lottery basis. It was so interesting to see a truck to drive up looking for a worker(s) and see about 30 day workers run to the truck to hope to get to work. I am amazed at their persistence to keep trying to get work here in the United States. And the jobs that they are trying to get are not fun jobs. For example, today I also had to do some intense yard work for the BorderLinks facility and about every 10 minuets I needed to take a water break. The jobs that the migrants work at probably don't allow them to take these water breaks. Every time I would complain about the heat, I would think about those men who ran to the truck so eager for work.

John Fife came and talked to us about the sanctuary movement he started in the 1980s. It was so amazing to hear him talk about what he did!!

It's funny, I came down to Arizona and I thought that I new a far amount of information about the boarder issues, but it turns outs, I basically knew nothing. Which just goes to show that if we all became informed about the boarder issues, we would be able to better solve the issues.

I also thought that it was interesting that there were two police cars outside of the public pool we went to tonight. I wonder if that has anything to do with the new immigration law...

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week!! I will write more later!


Ps-- Hey to the fam and I love you!

Water Stations

The honored "Group B" went to the water stations today - the first run of the trip. We met with the Humane Borders representative at 7 o'clock in the morning, but we were up at 5:30 with the rest of the group.

We drove down highways and then nasty dirt roads, miles and miles of cactuses (cacti?), mountains with huge, jagged, peaks, and border patrol. We past checkpoints, vans, officers, and warning signs. It's serious business - you can tell that the US has got these people out if FORCE.

We visited four water stations. The first three went off without a hitch, and some were more empty than others. It ended up mostly being driving and then standing while someone checked the level of the water and filled it. However, at the last station, we got our first real look at any resistance to the Humanitarian movements down here.

The barrels of water that Humane Borders placed there were all shot up - someone had opened fire with their shot gun to drain the water and damage the property. The station was reachable only by a road that ran next to a Pecan Orchard (they were trees, I assume orchard is the appropriate word?). The owners of the trees had placed a gate along the road that led to the station, welded completely shut. The truck couldn't get through - we couldn't reach the hose out to the station to refill the new barrels that we had grabbed to replace the destroyed pair.

We ended up moving the station to the other side of the gate. We gathered up the stand, the flag, and the new barrels and marched to the nearest public land - a hill that would hopefully be visible to immigrants hiking by. That WAS a group activity, but it was disheartening to know that the next time the Humane Borders truck drove up to that station the new barrels might be punctured with bullet holes.

Susanne went looking for migrant trash while we were filling the stations. She found a kids piece of clothing. The more time we spend down here, the more apparent the problem becomes.

But for now, we're off to the pool. You better believe we're all looking forward to that.

Have a FANTASTIC day y'all,

P.S. Love you, family.

Hello Again!

Hey All!

Today we went to cross street ministries at Southside Presbyterian Church. It was AMAZING! We had to wake up and 530 since we had to be there at 6. We served the Tucson homeless community as well as a large amount of migrants a meal. We had pasteries, cereal, meatloaf, salad, rice, chicken, greens, cake, milk, water, and the list goes on. They were also able to get their laundry done and take a shower. Yeah, serving the food was fun but what really made it for me was talking to people and hearing their stories. I talked to many men who are living on the streets due to alcoholism. It was interesting because they became alchoholics due to life changing experiences such as family deaths, etc. I became good friends with the 52 year old man from Sonoran, Mexico. He immigrated here to raise his 7 children and 13 grandchildren, who all live here now too. He comes and helps out with the serving process because he can't work due to a robbery injury that left him mentally incompetent. He says he wants to help "his people".

For those of you who don't know about the Sanctuary movement you should really look into it. Southside Presbyterian Church is known as a "sanctuary" meaning that ICE and police cannot come onto their property and take the undocumented aliens into custody. Therefore, in the parking lot of Southside Presbyterian there is a day worker station. We talked to about 20 guys who were sitting waiting for work. It is a first come, first serve basis, and their name is taken down and is a lottery basis. We saw a truck coming looking for work, all 20 men ran to the truck like it was a life or death situation, and only one man got to go. The men only spoke Spanish, so I translated for the group.

I have never been told I am so beautiful, and again, this goes back with the culture of latin americans. They never have anything mean to say to people who are helping them and are soooooo greatful. I was told that our work "made their day". I am honored.

In the afternoon we learned about sustainable food. ONLY BUY ORGANIC and from LOCAL FARMERS MARKET. The price may be more expensive, but they said that in reality it is more expensive because you are causing migrants to immigrate here (they are losing business on their local farms) and you are damaging your health. Leon, remember when I said that when I come home we are going to build a garden? Well, we need to look into what kind of a garden to make, what we want in our garden, and steps on how to do it. So there is our summer project. I'm excited!

Leon, I miss you so much. I'm glad to hear that you aren't forgetting about me. And I cannot WAIT to see you. I hope that you haven't lost my cell phone yet. How did your grad party turn out?? See you Saturday night at the airport! You should see if my mom would be willing to bring you and Sam to the ariport with her. I llllllllllllloooooooooovvvvvveeeeeeeeeeeeeee you so so so so so so so much. See you in 4 days!

Injuries for the day: Lily had a cactus thorn go through her foot. But, she is totally fine, just a little blood. Aidan had a spring flicked at his neck while Gabe and Walter were destroying a metal bed? He is also fine. So, the injuries were very minor.

Love you all! Thanks for the prayers and wishes. Miss you mom, dad, lily and Simon. Hugs and Kisses.


P.S. Mom, make sure you talk to Paula.

Some Pictures from Monday

I've posted some pictures on a separate website - the link is on the right. These are from some of the education and background sessions we had on Sunday. Also today I was with a group filling water stations in the desert and I also took some pictures of a group that did work around Borderlinks. The 3rd group of people worked at a church that provides a meal and other services to homeless and immigrants. (Hopefully we'll have pictures from that later.)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hello from Tucson!

Hey Mom, Dad, Simon, and Leon:

I miss you all so much! However, I think I have found a real interest, and found what I am going to spend my future doing- Human Rights. I am so interested in all the aspects of Immigration, and it seems to be a problem with so many different angles! I can't wait to get home and tell you everything I've learned. Working at Paula's( immigration attorney) has always interested me, but there is something about being here where all the action takes place. And, I have TOTALLY made my decision- I am taking spanish in college. Not chinese. Being down here reminded me of the culture that latin american people have. It is so incredibly welcoming, and thankful. My spanish has completely come back to me and I can't wait to work with these people more in the future.

I am enjoying my time here so far. It is sooooooooo hot. Yes, it is dry heat but still hot! So far we have watched a documentary called 800 mile wall, which was incredibly heart wrenching. There were a few migrants that talked about their family members dying in front of their eyes. We saw the blisters on people's feets, the tears, but it was truly eye opening. I guess I realize how much there is to learn, and how much education needs to be done before the actual problem can be fixed. So that is a goal of mine, and I plan on working with borderlinks and no more deaths throughout college. We also did a political cartoon activity which addressed the difference between prejudice and racism/discrimination, which was very interesting. I guess I considered them to go together.

We have 5 black tahoes. They are huge. You can feel the tension, and isolation in Tuscon due to the new immigration law. So, driving 5 tahoe's around in a caravan looks VERY suspicious and we get a lot of stares.

Tomorrow, I am headed to southside presbyterian church to work serving migrants and homeless people from around Tucson. They are able to get a full meal there, get laundry done, shower, and we will be chatting with people about their experiences. Then, we will be going to watch a real court hearing for migrants who are facing criminal charges for crossing the border. Tracy (borderlinks coordinator) said this is heart wrenching and will take pretty much the whole night to recover from.

We haven't had many stressors this trip, as everything is pretty much planned for us by Borderlinks, however Marge's bag somehow got misplaced between Pheonix airport and here. Of all the people's bags to loose it is so sad because she had all her medical traction devices in her bag. She is incredible pain without it. I feel awful. We've called the airport and there is no reports of her bag.

Leon! I hope your grad party went well! I miss you so much. I hope that you aren't forgetting about me. Let me know how things are going.

Anyways, love and miss you all. Write more later.

Caroline Brown

Finally here

Well! We're finally here! It took a lot of travel time, but wow... we're actually here and anxious to get started. We've done a lot of learning so far. There's so much more to the topic of immigration than i had considered in the past. We've learned a lot and now it's time to go see it for ourselves.
I'm excited to go out and start filling water tanks tomorrow.
It's odd here; i can't tell if the time is going by fast or slow. We live in moments, to say the least.
And THE HEAT!! it get's to some people but not to others. I've never been very good with the heat but am holding up surprisingly well. I guess it's the humidity that bothers me. When i first stepped outside into full sun, i stood there for a moment. More than anything, the heat here reminds me of Nebraska. It feels home-ish and comforting. If i close my eyes i can imagine that i am in Uehling, and look up into the same stretching blue sky. It's amazing here. I'll just keep drinking water :)
I'm really excited to be getting to know new people here and make new friends. I feel sort of like we're a family in cousins and brothers and sisters and parents and all that jazz. It's so cool getting to connect more.
I can tell that this is going to be an amazing trip. There are some really incredible things going on here, i can tell; in the work, in the community, in everything.

signing off, love to all,
Sari :)

Hello, Outside World.

As far as I'm concerned, you're all on a different planet. Tucson is so different from St. Paul, maybe we're the ones who went inter-galactic. EVERY yard has a fence - walls seem to be in style (not just the border, in the architecture and landscaping), but there is SO MUCH COLOR. Needless to say the heat's a little odd. Let's just say eating outside was a contest in constitutions. Butts were fried.

This morning me, Clara, Charlie, Jack, and Lee (Daddy-o) went to a Methodist Church that seemed to know that we were coming. They preached on the reality of migration - the pastor had recently discovered that his own father was an illegal immigrant from Greece. We're all equal in God's eyes - equal enough that the conservative Methodist church that we went to is applying to become an open and affirming community - like Mac. Striving to welcome all. How cool is that?

We did an interesting activity today that led to a conversation that went of FAR past the planned start of dinner preparation. Not that we're complaining - it was fascinating. We looked at political cartoons with a migration theme. Overwhelmingly, it seems, we haven't changed a bit. It's just the nationalities that have changed. From the Western Europeans, to the Chinese, to the Mexicans. Makes you wonder what's next.

I'll be back tomorrow. Whether you want me to or not.

Stay Cool. Literally and figuratively,

PS-- Clara would like to say happy father's day to all those dads out there-- we REALLY are thankful for all that you do and we love you!!

hi mom!

So far Arizona's been pretty fun, we start the real work tomorrow so wish us luck. It's hot, really hot, like in the hundreds hot, but luckily I managed to snag a room with AC. Andrea, Aidan, Henry, Claire and I went to catholic mass this morning, and a group of us played some card games later. I'll see you in a week!
-Matt Spencer

You know, you never know.

Hey there Minnesota!
So it's a little hotter here than in Minnesota... Around 100 degrees.
Today, we went to church in the morning, myself, Kevin, Ellie, Rose, Molly, Marsha and Wendy went to Catalina Foothills. It was pretty tight. They have like a full band, and they just stand up and sing for a majority of the service. I think it was a neat experience, and I heard a lot of the other churches were interesting too, so overall I think it was a good morning. When we came back, we ate lunch and we had an orienteering talk with Tracy (the woman in charge of things around here). This week sounds like it is going to be exhausting, but I think it will take us to a new place where we can see things we haven't really seen before.
Because Gabe Street can't pick paper very well, our group of myself, Gabe, Rose, Leighton, Matt Spencer and Marsha are staying around the Border Links place and were doing some landscaping for them, but it is the least we could do because they are very graciously letting us stay here.
As for today... I just gave Gabe a hand tattoo, which is pretty tight if I do say so myself, we met a woman who actually lived in the 1600's of Portland and attended MPUC when she lived in Saint Paul, and her husband actually attended Macalester College.
Okay, enough babbling from me. I think were about to do another activity, but you know... You never know.
Talk to you soon!
Lily Brown
P.S.- We had a few rounds of arm wrestling at the airport and back here, and Kevin is coming out the winner in most of them. He beat me, Sari, Maddie, and Tom cause he cheated. And he was at a stale-mate with Will so we had to call it. Hopefully Tom will be able to redeem himself...probably not... but we'll see. :)
Hey All,

After the flight, getting the rental cars, stopping at subway, and driving into Tucson, we made it to BorderLinks around 5:30. It got to about 105 degrees on our way down here, so needless to say its nice and hot. Today we are going to be splitting up and heading to different churches and then we have a few orientations here at BorderLinks that will get us set up for the whole week. Everyone have a great day, we will update later.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New File in Links List on the right

There is a new file in the list on the right. This has the Adult Facilitator's phone and email contacts while on the trip along with housing, packing, airline, ... information.
As it is titled:  "Parent’s Refrigerator Information on the Youth Mission Trip"

New and Improved info on Delta Skymiles


Yesterday's post pointed out how easy it was to go to and pop in the Skymiles account number. Very helpful post, I thought. Also not fully correct. We are actually flying under two separate reservations.

For those Youth whose last names begin A through PLATT the confirm number is PUQXWH.

For the rest of the youth, POWELL through Z, and all of the adults, plus our two young stowaways, the confirm number is PLGB1D.


Monday, June 7, 2010


Here are some flight details.

Saturday, June 19, 2010, departure.

Delta Flight 2699. Departs 11:30 AM.

We are planning to be standing in the Group Check In spot at 9:30 AM. That area is between the parking ramp and the main terminal, in the lower level. You pass through it on the way from the parking area/light rail to the main MSP terminal.

The return is scheduled for June 26 at 8:14 PM, Delta 2592.

You should be able to pop in your Delta Skymiles number on (Please Please do not try to mess with seating assignments.) Just name and this confirm number: PLGB1D.

Monday, May 31, 2010


One additional requirement in working with Borderlinks - They have their own information/release form that they would like all participants to fill out.  It is on-line, but I will warn you - you will need the youth passport and insurance information.

I believe you can get to the form directly at:

(If not, go to follow the “Education” tab on our homepage, then click “Delegations”, then “Orientation and Registration”.

Some fill-in information:

1. Group Name - MPUC Youth Trip
2. Coordinator's email -  (by filling this in,
    I will be notified as people register, so I know who we are missing.)
3. Start Date of Trip - June 19
4. NOTE Date entry is DAY/MONTH/YEAR (date first)
5. There is a statement at the end "If the registrant is a minor, ..."
    ignore that, there is no additional information to submit.

Please let me know if you've got questions or have any problems.

    Norm T.
    651-731-3899  Home/Work
    651-335-6962  Cell

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hey All:

Here are some details at BorderLinks.

First, we DO NOT need to bring bedding and towels. Provided for us. Our goal of packing light and carrying on should be achievable. Go to the TSA website if you have any questions about the liquids, quart baggies, and other details.

We plan, as a group, to check 4 bags, which will include our medical kids and other group items. If there really needs to be something personal checked, we can discuss it at the picnic.

There will be 24 beds available in the dorms at that time. They have a large basement room with cots for the 12 remaining folks. There is one other small group of students (8) from Duke University there at that time.

There are two showers in each of the Men's and Women's bathrooms.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mission Trip Send-Off Celebration
(and last-minute logistics: phone tree, packing, etc.)

Join us for a family picnic (yep—that’s youth, parents and even siblings) to finalize details for the mission trip and enjoy some fellowship.

This year’s picnic will be held at church:
Wednesday, June 16 at 6 p.m.

Norm and Tom will supply the meat, veggie burgers, buns, condiments and paper goods.  But….
If your last name begins with the letters A-L,
                                  please bring chips or a salad
If your last name begins with the letters M-P,
                                 please bring beverages
If your last name begins with the letters Q-Z,
                                please bring a dessert

**Coffee for Dunn Bros. fundraiser will be distributed at the picnic**

Important Reminder:  The Mission Trip Commissioning will take place at the 9:30am worship service on June 13, 2010. Youth, please attend as this is the congregation’s opportunity to send us off.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Kick off for 2010

The planning committee will start to put relevant information in blog entries, to keep you up to date as the trip gets closer.  On the right, there is a set of links to the packing list and the places we are working with.

As decisions are made and we learn about bedding, cots, work, travels, ... we will post entries on the blog.

Check back often to see the latest.