It has been so difficult to put my thoughts into words today. I am attempting to write this blog post with what feels like fog in my brain, while staring at a blank page. There is so much to say, stories to tell, experiences to share, and yet today I have barely done anything with my time. It was such a sharp transition from full physical activity all day to complete freedom to do whatever I want. It is hard not to question how I ended up in this position when so many others do not wake up with the luxury I have. Why is there so much judgment surrounding where an individual is born? Why is there a competitive drive for different groups of people to always be better than the others? Why did this hierarchy start and what purpose or benefit does it offer? Why am I able to come home and binge Netflix when the idea of safety and security is out of the question for others? I know that where and what we are born into is a choice made by God that no earthly being has any control over, but the Bible teaches us to love and serve one another. If so, why does God choose to put one person in a better position than the other? This trip has been a test of faith bringing up all the questions no one can answer. However, what I have learned and will always remember is that empathy goes such a long way. Even though we did not come into direct contact with any migrants or their families, I do feel that we as a team have touched and benefited so many lives.
The daunting, unanswered questions will always remain, but a very critical part of this reflection process for me is to also remember my favorite parts of this trip. Don and Ray were amazing to work with. I could not imagine doing what we did everyday without them. Along with them came Socks who added an exciting twist, always when we needed a pick-me-up. She was always just happy to be there no matter what we were doing. Another memorable moment from this trip was discovering shoe tracks from possible migrants traveling through the very same brush and thickets we walked through that day. Don had said they most likely were from the previous night or early morning. I remember reflecting on the drastic differences between all the gear, snacks, and water we had versus what little we can imagine the migrants had at the time. We spent an entire day refilling water stations with Eddie, seeing the locations where migrants have also walked through. Spending our last day away from home being together as a team helped bring the trip to an end. Moments like these are what made this so special.
I could not be more grateful for the time we spent in Brooks County. The friendships we made, challenges we faced, and laughs we shared will be lifelong memories. Having traveled to Texas before, I had an idea of what the vegetation would be like, but what I was not expecting was the mental exhaustion. It was difficult to stay focused and engaged all day, everyday. I knew every moment would be worth it and I did not even want to blink the time away. But, it was always in the back of my mind that time was ticking and the trip would come to an end. I am extremely privileged to be able to continue my education and live in a stable home and community. I want nothing more than to share the experiences and knowledge I have learned about the migrant crisis. I am confident this will transfer over to whichever career path I choose. Because of this experience, I will strive to always encourage those around me to practice empathy no matter the situation. I have grown as a professional, a human being, and in my faith because of our trip and I could not be more thankful.
The following are some of my favorite photos from the trip we have not yet shared!