We hear stories that may seem distant to us… immigrants with no or limited resources struggling to survive and walking with their wounds. Is it possible that we could experience in a real way a small snippet of what they do? What might that look like?

Well, it didn’t take long at convention to have such an experience! After dropping my children off to their caregivers, I had 10 minutes to grab some breakfast before worship. When I arrived, I saw the fruit and the sweet bread, but under the tray cover with what seemed like warm food, I didn’t see anything. Maybe they were still bringing out more food… but I was told soon enough, the food had all been consumed. Actually, the beloved protein had all been gone much earlier. Now, I was disappointed because of my personal diet restrictions, but soon I found myself between one tall*, white male Mennonite and the black server that had come out to clean and arrange the food that was still available. Voices escalated as a very, hungry and indignant man questioned how something like this could have happened. He had gone to many business conferences and never had this happened before. Our server shared that there was a line that began to form at 6:45am, and when the doors opened, the hungry Mennos came in eating more than their portion size, e.g. 1 sausage per person. (And I imagined our growing and hungry youth coming in filling their plates full of sausages without regard to the consequences… They had their full but others would hunger.) My Mennonite brother couldn’t believe that he received a piece of bread for $17. Our server stood stunned, and I quickly acknowledged that this was not her responsibility. The tension subsided even though we were left unsatisfied.***

It is here that even though many of us present at Phoenix do not share the immigrant story, there is a lesson for us even so. With each moment here we have the opportunity to engage these principles of love, generosity, sacrifice, and peace. When our food is taken, we experience hunger. We feel upset especially since we contributed to the event with our financial contribution. As the labor of our immigrant brothers and sisters have done for us… they’ve busted their backs to bring to us affordable goods and services, and their “reward” being the constant risk of being returned to a land with less opportunities and increased poverty, to be left with their hands empty.

I invite you to sit with your own poverty this morning. Sit with your empty tummies in solidarity with the others who hunger each and every day for food, shelter, safety, belonging… justice and God’s peace.

Janet Treviño-Elizarraraz
Mennocon Commentator

***I understand that there was still food available. This is an imperfect comparison, but sometimes some of us just need some animal protein to make it through the day. 😉