My favorite nights truly are the ones when a bunch of people go to a park near A-House (even some kids from Casa Vides make the long walk over) and play soccer. The games always start at 7.30pm so that people have time to digest their dinner that is always eaten at 6:00pm. Our field is in the grassy area of a baseball field there, and our goals are often between two of the players’ water bottles, though sometimes two small red goals are brought from A-House. Tonight was the second chance that I got to do this, as I was working the last two times. The age range of players is fairly wide: we have kids as young as 11 there, and some men look to be in their forties. Although I am certainly not the best soccer player, it is without a doubt my favorite sport to play, and this has by far been my favorite venue and group of people to play with. (Sorry to my intramural soccer team from last semester, but this is just too good!) Yes, we are competitive, but it is truly all in good fun. It’s not the kind of competitive one sees when people get really upset over the other team scoring or getting an upper hand; it’s the kind of competitive where we play hard, but if a person on the other team falls, we will laugh and help them up. (However, I am sad to admit that I often say words that I am not proud of when I get particularly frustrated.)
I wish you all were able to hear the shouts of “ya!” or “a bolterro!” or “a Cuba!” because there are two Cubans at A-House that often play and many just call them “Cuba.” I wish you could see how amazing some of the people are at playing. I wish you could this mix of guest, volunteer, and the occasional visitor sweating under a near full moon and playing what is, in my opinion, the best sport in the world, all being conducted in Spanish. (Sorry to those I offend by claiming this.) It is a sport that truly brings the world together. Tomorrow, there is a soccer game between Mexico and Honduras that the guests at A-House are going to watch, and I plan on attending. I can only imagine the energy that is going to be in front of their medium-sized TV there, and I know I want to be a part of it!
I have been struggling for quite some time now on what to write about for this blog, as I am sure is apparent. I figure I’ll just tell you all some happenings that I find worth reporting, both from my volunteer life and immigration life.
- · A couple of weeks ago, a new law was made that requires immigrants that are released from detention to await their court dates to have an ankle bracelet, sort of like those that people that are under house arrest have. Typically, only one person per family has this), unless immigration has reason to believe that the family might separate. If I remember correctly, a single charge will last 14 hours per day, and then one must sit by an outlet as it charges. However, it’s easiest to find a way to plug it in while you sleep and have it fully charged for the next day. What is paying for all of this do you ask? Your taxes of course! And I can only imagine how expensive they are to get.
- · We have officially received a new round of social security guests at Casa Vides. Chayito and Andrea have left, my two friends that have special needs. We now have SO MANY adolescent boys, and it can be frustrating. I don’t know how to deal with energetic pre-teen and teenage boys in groups, and to be perfectly honest, I find it intimidating! Hopefully, I can get Corey, the only male volunteer in the house, to help me out with all of that. Also, we recently received a long-term family from A-House yesterday, so hopefully I get to know them better soon.
- · Last week, the volunteers here at Casa Vides had our monthly Commy Day. No, Commy Day is not a day where we celebrate communism; it is a day we spend as a community. We are allotted 8 dollars per person as our budget and do something as a group. So all of us piled into a van and took ventured into New Mexico to go swimming at a dam and spend time at White Sands National Memorial. Swimming was refreshing, but I really enjoyed White Sands. There are so many dunes of white sand that one is given the illusion of being surrounded by hills covered in snow, but with desert plants sticking up here and there and sand that will take days to wash out of your hair. There is a certain beauty to it, though, and there is something about it that is quite serene. And, of course, rolling down sand dunes is just really fun!
- · It is here that I should probably mention that on this outing, I went through my first border checkpoint. On all of the major highways outside of El Paso, typically at least 40 miles away, there are border check points to make sure that there are no illegal immigrants entering the United States that may have gotten past our first defenses. It was pretty easy for us, as we are all white and have the privilege of not being suspect of any illegal border activity. Someone simply asked if we were all U.S. citizens and, Maria, who was driving said yes, and we were on our way. That’s all. It’s too bad that was a lie, as one of the other summer volunteers is actually a French citizen on the path to citizenship (she has spent most of her life here in the States). This experience continues to expand my understanding on just how expansive US immigration is.
This past week, I was asked to start doing some tasks for Ruben, our head honcho and one of the original founders of the organization, at our office at Casa T (where volunteers usually go on days off because of the upstairs apartment – the bottom floors has two large, somewhat cluttered offices). My task was to write personalized (as in from me personally) thank you letters to our donors, which I was more than happy to do. This organization survives on donations, and it made my heart smile to know that I was able to thank donors for their part in keeping Annunciation House alive. It is here that I will ask if my readers, if you feel so inclined, donate something to A-House, if you feel so inclined. It doesn’t have to be money, but it can be if you would like, even if it was a sum as low as $5. Everything helps. We also accept clothes, and lots of them! We are almost always in need of clothes and shoes for men. (Eddie, a guest from Honduras, was just telling me while walking back to the house after soccer how he didn’t play often because he has no tennis shoes.) If anyone really wants to attempt to send food, go for it! And if you feel unable or uninclined to donate, that’s okay, too.
I am halfway through my experience here, but I feel like there is so much more I need to learn and do. This morning’s reflection was led by Maria, and she had us refocus our thoughts on why we were here – on what our feelings are now and how we feel moving forward. I took that opportunity to write down what I felt I had accomplished so far and what goals I have for the next 5 weeks. Let me say that I feel so blessed to be where I am, and I am so happy that I have learned to speak this new language as much as I have, that improves and becomes more automatic every day; to have learned all that I have learned; to have formed the relationships that I have; and to have made some amazing memories. But I still have much farther to go, and I will keep learning, keep practicing Spanish, keep not letting opportunities pass me by, and keep reflecting on why I am here.
Thanks again to all of you for supporting me while I’m off trying to understand this crazy world!
Until next time, I send you all light and love,