There is nothing like working in a nonprofit organization for four months to teach me about simple, every day generosity. The comedor would not function without donations of food and money that come from both sides of the border. Or the faithful servers from the community of Ambos Nogales who come every week to bring a meal or simply help with food service. Or the churches who constantly support with clothing donations. Or groups that come from as far away as Phoenix to bring donations and serve once a month.
I am also always impressed by the service the migrants dedicate to helping the comedor. They do not have many resources, but they contribute what they can. After every meal, 6 to 8 migrants stay to wash dishes. Often the same ones volunteer day after day and not only wash dishes but clean out sinks and sweep floors. I tell them that they are under no obligation to help – that they can let others work too – but they continue working, saying it is the least that they can do. Once a migrant was deported from Phoenix and some friends crossed the border to bring him clothing and other possessions. They also brought us a box of clothing donations that were exactly what the migrants needed – because they knew the precise needs of deported migrants. And then there were one or two migrants who asked how they could make a monetary donation to Kino. They said that it would not be much but that they wanted to give what they could. I was reminded of the parable of the widow throwing her last coin into the offering plate. They don’t just accept charity. They do what they can to help, support, and give back.
After four months of experiencing constant generosity, it is encouraging to see that the spirit of service is not limited to Nogales. After my dentist appointment last week, my dental hygienist asked if the migrants needed toothbrushes because she wanted to donate a case of toothbrushes to the project. Even someone who helps in my dad’s cousin’s senior apartments emailed to ask how she could contribute to the migrants. It is incredible how many people are just waiting for an opportunity to be generous and support others.
So if my last blog post was about radical hospitality, there is also something to be said for simple generosity. For opening ourselves up to see what small part we can play in God’s great work. Elisa Morgan wrote a book entitled She Did What She Could, inspired off of the story in Mark 14 where Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with oil. Jesus responds to Mary’s gesture by saying “She did what she could.” What if we all simply did what we could?