To all my friends in and from Latin America:
May I tell you how I feel about you? You are human beings created in the image of God and loved by God. You are my friends, my neighbors, my brothers and sisters, my surrogate niece and nephews. I love you. I thank God for you, for who you are, and for placing you in my life as beautiful gifts.
To Sara, Tim, and Andrew, my surrogate family when I desperately needed one: you continue to teach me what it means to be a person of color living in the U.S., especially in a very white region. You will always hold a special place in my heart.
To the women in El Salvador who witnessed and participated in my prophetic call to missions: you helped me hear God more clearly and see God working in my life.
To the immigrants I met in Agua Prieta, who changed my life and my work: your courage and devotion to your families inspire me still.
To Carmen and your two beautiful daughters, the first family I worked with in Baby Jail: you trusted me with your horrific story of rape and gang extortion, and two years later we still call and text each other. Your tenacity for the safety and well-being of your children overwhelms me.
To Elmer and David and your lovely family: you welcomed me into your home and your lives when they were contained within a church building as you sought sanctuary. You shared your food and your lives with me, showing me true hospitality.
To my ministry partners in Guatemala: you’ve shown me what it looks like to live out one’s faith, to work for change in the face of incredible odds, to love your neighbors beyond what is safe or sensible. You fight for justice and the flourishing of all people, not just your own family members and friends. You are bringing glimpses of God’s kingdom to earth.
To Anna, Jose, Gloria, and all the other clients I’ve worked with in the immigration legal office: you’ve shown me what courage and persistence look like.
To Nayda, Luis, and all the other Dreamers: you work harder than most people I know. You’ve shown me what commitment, tenacity, and love for family look like. May all your dreams come true.
To all of you, you are created in God’s image and loved by God, and I say to you: you are beloved human beings. You are my friends, my family, my neighbors, my sisters and brothers. And I love you.