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The Ministry Center of First United Methodist Church that houses MDS Volunteers needed some repairs. This week volunteers spent several days shoring up the supports holding the second floor walkway in place.

On Thursday we started block foundation work on a new build. Long term staff were joined by weekly volunteer Larry from Pennsylvania. Larry plans to be in McAllen for two weeks.

Next week construction will continue on that home with the possibility of putting in a foundation for a second home.

On Saturday four of us joined local immigration staff for a tour of the migrant camp in Raynosa Mexico.  MDS in cooperation with MCC is making such trips available every Saturday for interested volunteers.

 

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Volunteer Reflections

Rebuilding hope—a familiar theme for MDS volunteers gained another layer of understanding for me as I walked through a migrant camp in Reynosa Mexico with several local immigration leaders.

Dozens of tents housing hundreds of people fill the city square. Clothes lines filled with drying clothes make walking through the camp a challenge while rubbing shoulders with camp residents in narrow walkways; noting people filling containers at water stations; watching children playing with homemade toys; seeing deep emotional trauma in the eyes of mothers; and experiencing the intense heat of the day.

Our hosts, Cindy and Kelly encouraged us to ask camp residents two questions: How can we amplify your voice in our corner of the US? What would you like for us to say on your behalf when we return to the US?

Cindy and Kelly offered hope as they personally interacted with 3-4 camp residents, always translating for us so we could hear stories first hand. They expressed hope in the form of a genuine listening ear and caring attitude. We were privileged to hear directly from migrants.

During the walk, I felt uneasy. It felt like we were walking into someone’s house and looking around. I was aware of my power, being American and white. I was reminded again of assuming that everyone in the world knows my language and I don’t need to learn theirs.

I also felt hopelessness. What could I do to relieve the uncertainty, pain and loss experienced by all these people?

Upon reflection, I feel proud of the way MDS and MCC are providing opportunities for their volunteers to not only build houses, but also catch a glimpse of the grim reality immigrants are facing.

 

Don Yoder, McAllen Office Manager