“For He will give Angels charge concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” ~ Psalm 91:11
I was driving Maria to the Harlingen, Texas, bus station. I knew some things about her desperate story. But then she shared even more of the painful details. Here’s how I recall her own words:
“My husband and I, together with our three teenage sons, lived a happy medium income family lifestyle in Belize. One year ago, on the way home from work, my husband’s vehicle was struck head-on by two intoxicated policemen’s patrol car, and he was killed instantly. The police department was so corrupt there was no recourse, so I had to find employment to support my mother and my three sons.
“I was hired as a bilingual tourist guide at the Cancun International Airport in Mexico. While waiting at a bus stop one evening, my co-worker and I were kidnapped at gunpoint and taken to a huge warehouse-type building where I suffered for two months along with many others. However, what kept my hopes alive was that I felt that somehow I would be rescued by an angel.
“One night a fellow prisoner noticed an unlocked window through which a few others and I escaped. Fortunately, one in our group had a friend who wired money to hire a ‘coyote’ to take us to the Border fence. I was so weak from lack of food and water during captivity and the three-day trek to the river that with each stroke in the water, I thought I would drown. But miraculously, I reached the other side; yet there was still another mile and a half to go before reaching the fence!
“By the time we reached the 18-foot fence, I fell to the ground, completely exhausted, and was unable to form a ‘human ladder.’ The coyote kicked me in the face so forcefully with his boot that it fractured my jaw. The pain was so excruciating that I fell into a dead faint that must have lasted several hours.
“When I finally opened my eyes, the pain was almost unbearable, an elderly man – an angel, I am sure – was leaning over me, offering to help me up. He gently whispered as he pointed, ‘Keep walking in that direction, and you will find help.’
“As I turned around, he was nowhere to be seen. I continued to walk in the direction I was instructed. In a short time, a Border Patrol agent came to my rescue. He brought me to his headquarters where I was documented and then took me to the hospital where I received treatment for a fractured jaw. When I was released, an Immigration agent brought me to La Posada. During my three days’ stay at La Posada, I was able to contact my brother-in-law’s family, and they sent me my bus ticket to join them.”
Near the bus station was a CVS Pharmacy. I purchased a few items to help make Maria’s two-day journey more pleasant: a nutritional drink, straws, bandages and pain medication. Suffering with a fractured jaw, Maria could barely speak, much less chew food and easily drink liquids. As I bade her farewell with a heartfelt “Adios,” I prayed “God be with you, Maria, and continue sending His angels to accompany you on your life’s journey.”
Almost everyone who arrives at La Posada Providencia has experienced life threatening-encounters on their perilous journey to the US.
Some people travel between Panama and Central America for several days on foot through the dangerous jungle teeming with wild animals and poisonous snakes.
Others must avoid extortionists, kidnappers and the drug cartel in Mexico.
Maria had been kidnapped by extortionists and held captive with dozens of other prisoners for two months while working in Mexico to support her family. A small portion of food was provided once a day; there was no opportunity for showers or change of clothes. The victims were beaten or tortured daily in various ways in an effort to obtain money from family or friends. (Often women were raped by their captors.)
Maria’s belief that an angel helped her find a way to escape and make it to the Mexico/United States Border fence, where she was convinced she was miraculously rescued a second time by an angel, is very easy to understand. Her situation was desperate, but, unfortunately, more common than we like to think.
We consider ourselves so privileged at La Posada to be able to play a part in God’s work of rescuing people like Maria. But we can only boast of this because of friends and co-workers like you.
During her brief stay at La Posada Providencia, Maria received clean clothes, a place to bathe, a soft bed, nourishing food and compassion. We helped her contact family in the US with whom she can stay as she progresses through her immigration proceedings.
This is but one of hundreds of La Posada stories about the lives and experiences of our global brothers and sisters who encounter incredibly harsh and cruel circumstances as they flee for their lives seeking safety in the U.S.
Some suffer physical and emotional abuse because of their religious or political beliefs. Others, like Maria, suffer unspeakable cruelty at the hands of gangs. At La Posada, all find safe and welcoming shelter that offers compassion, care and the assistance needed to move forward, to press on for a more secure future.
With your gift today of $40, you can help clients like Maria with essential supplies as they travel to their resettlement destination.
A gift in any amount will help individuals like Maria begin new lives in safety and peace. Together, we can witness God’s Providence in our world.
I thank you in advance for your thoughtful and prayerful help.
In God’s Providence,
Sister Zita Telkamp, CDP
P.S. It is such a joy and a privilege to be able to “accompany” some of God’s people in urgent needs, as Pope Francis has encouraged all people of good will to do. We can do this together!