From time to time, we like to share La Posada stories from those who visit and volunteer with us.
Daniel and Rebekah Behrens, who are regular volunteers at La Posada, wrote the following story. Fr. Daniel is a priest in the Anglican Church of North America who is serving with a ministry in Harlingen called Trinity on the Border. They shared this story with their supporters, and we asked if we could share it with you as well.
The Story of Pablo and Saul
I first met “Saul” in November. He was by himself in class at La Posada Providencia. He appeared to be a teenager, and I wondered if he had entered the United States alone. The next day, I was relieved to meet his dad, “Pablo.” I found that they traveled together from Guatemala and were seeking asylum.
I want to share with you the story of our interactions with Saul and Pablo. My hope is that you get a clearer picture of the people we are getting to know and what our day-to-day ministry can be like. Let me warn you that their story is not especially satisfying. We get little bits of information a little at a time and then we do not know what happens after they leave us. Their story is not sensational, but it is real and probably representative of many others.
Like all of the people staying at La Posada, Pablo and Saul participated in an English class for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon each day. They always seemed cheerful. During December, we were practicing Christmas carols in English, and the dad, Pablo, typically became the de facto choir director. Saul’s English was less developed than his dad was, but he was a highly motivated student. He enjoyed saying “Good job,” and it became a running joke. Even when he made a mistake in English, or I fumbled over my Spanish, he would smile wide and say, “Good job.”
One day in January, I was able to sit down with the two of them after class and I finally heard more of their story. I say story, but it was more like fragments of information. As they spoke, Pablo became more impassioned and Saul became more subdued, hardly speaking and lowering his eyes to the table. Their habitual cheerfulness gave way to a combination of anger and sadness with an urgency like someone who has held his breath for too long.
Pablo spouted his thoughts. People in his hometown are crazy. There is no respect. Gunmen will hold up a bus and take everyone’s cash, and if someone resists they are shot. Saul has a torn earlobe from when a stranger on the street decided to steal his gold earring. If you hang clothes to dry outside, they are stolen. Saul’s teenage friend was shot and killed in front of him for no apparent reason. Their lives have been threatened, and if they went back home they think they would be killed. Pablo’s wife and their older children are still in Guatemala, but they hope to bring them to the U.S. someday. Guatemala is a good country, a beautiful country, Pablo said, but people are crazy and there is no justice.
As I listened, I found myself wanting to minimize the severity of his statements. However, I kept my mouth shut. Their neighborhood, their friends, their lives have been ruined by lawlessness and senseless violence. Just as my day-to-day experience has been one of stability and peace, theirs became one of insanity and death.
A few days after this conversation, our team and guests from Seattle were able to have dinner with Pablo and Saul at our house. A high point of the evening was when Pablo, back to his usual cheerful self, read Sabal “Ser Mariachi”, a children’s
book in Spanish.
One morning when I arrived at La Posada, I was surprised to hear that Pablo and Saul had left. From what I could gather, they went to stay with someone they knew in a small town in another state. I wish I could have said goodbye and prayed with them. Now, a few months later, I wonder how they are doing.
As far as I know, that is the end of our interactions with Pablo and Saul. We get to walk next to folks for days, weeks, or sometimes months of their journey and then they move on, many times without notice. As sad as it is, that is the nature of what we came to do. To meet people on their journey, to serve them in various ways in the name of Christ, to learn from them, and to send them with our prayers.
The Sisters and staff who have been running La Posada since 1989 have welcomed, and said goodbye to, over 10,000 people from 86 different countries. They have my deep respect!
Check your mailboxes for La Posada Providencia’s
30-Year Anniversary edition of New Beginnings!
This issue describes how we started and how far we have come in making God’s Providence more visible not only in the Rio Grande Valley, but also throughout the United States. As we have extended compassion to the more than 10,000 individuals from around the world so to have we extended God’s Providence beyond borders. We encourage you to share this issue with others, helping to spread the La Posada story.