Lu and I, along with numerous others have been packing backpacks with a stuffed animal and three snacks with the IWC group. The backpacks are made for those who have been released from detention and go to be with relatives to await a court hearing on asylum. Theirs has often been a run from violence and terror. So we and other churches try to extend a bit of compassion in giving a backpack for their travels.
The simple work took on especially real meaning to us during our own recent travel. Lu and I were at the San Antonio airport for a flight to Chicago. On arrival we noticed the table where IWC volunteers were working and visited with them briefly then made our way through security and to our gate. As we waited, we saw a woman and about a seven year old boy walk by. We recognized the red carrying bag and they each had one of our backpacks. We both teared up when we saw it. You provide what little help you can and wonder if it makes some difference to those receiving it. There it was in the hands of someone on the last leg of their frightening journey—on the same flight as us.
Boarding time was approaching and I couldn’t find other food quickly so I bought a candy bar and gave it to them. They barely looked up and I could tell they were frightened.
When we landed in Chicago I asked them, in my limited Spanish, if they needed help. They said they were looking for “bos.” I heard “bus” and immediately thought – we are in trouble. I looked at their tickets and realized, with some relief, they were headed for Boston. I offered to get them some food and with a flight attendant interpreting they said they would like fruit cups. While we stood in line I explained that the backpacks came from our church. Their faces lit up saying “muchas gracias” and they asked us to convey thanks to the church.
I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” And I guess Jesus might add, “I was a stranger, frightened and confused, and you gave me a backpack for my scary journey.”
Dios te bendiga. God bless you.
To volunteer for the packing days, contact Kathrine Lamb by email. Or you can help by donating small stuffed animals (8” or smaller.)