While I was in Nogales two weeks ago, a woman entered the shelter for the first time and was taken aback to find someone that she already knew was in residence. “You abandoned me,” she cried. She had spent days lost in the desert while trying to find her husband, who was left behind. The other woman explained, “It wasn’t me, it was the guide. We didn’t even know you were left behind.”
Migrants have suffered abandonment in many different ways. Perhaps it was the guide, who left them alone with their group – lost in the desert. Perhaps the group and the guide left a migrant alone to fend for themselves because they could not keep up. Or sometimes the abandonment stretches further back and is the reason they are migrating. Such as one woman (of many who share a similar story) whose husband had left her for another woman shortly after he returned to Chiapas from the US. Or an 18-year old boy who had been left at an early age by his mother and ignored by his father.
All the agony made one spring break visitor ask “I don’t understand how they are not angry with God. They say ‘thanks to God’ and ‘God willing.’ Don’t they realize how unjust their suffering is?” Knowing what most migrants would say, I told her to ask them herself. So she asked some of the women in the shelter, “Where is God in this journey?” And I had the opportunity to translate their response:
“From the moment we left our house, through the journey to the border, when our guide left us, when we ran out of food and water, when we were caught by Border Patrol and when we were received in this shelter, God is the only one who has not abandoned us. He has been with us every step of the way.”
The women do not deny their suffering but they know that God is with them in the pain. That is the beauty of our God who is present and came to us in human flesh to suffer more than we could imagine.
Just as they are confident in God’s presence, I too trust that God is with me in my many journeys this year and in my future. Even when everyone else does, God will not abandon us. So we continue to journey because, as my brother reminds me, Jesus is enough.