Lynette's Story: The Power of Love Economics
Updated: May 2, 2022
As I read scripture I often think about migration and what it must have cost the Israelites each time they were deported; forced to move out of their homes by foreign powers. Continually shifting from culture to culture, learning to adapt and succumb to the authority of new leaders. I think about the Exodus journey, the Israelites’ freedom out of the oppressive hand of Egyptians leaders, and later migrating to the promise land. Settling for years, building thriving communities, later to be held captive by the Babylonians, followed by the Assyrians. Each time a terrible defeat and blow, causing confusion and lament for the Israelite people.
Scripture often reminds me of the painful reality, and centrality of migration. I’d like to say that I’ve always read the Bible through these lenses, yet from the comfort of my own home in the States, it is far too easy to overlook the challenging call we see throughout the Old Testament; to love the poor, the orphans, the widows and much more the foreigners in our midst.
Sent by Mennonite Central Committee to serve migrants at Casa Del Migrante, I was eager to see and learn more about migration. Located in Guatemala City, the capital of Guatemala, Casa del Migrante is in a pivotal location, a place of heavy transit. What I wasn’t expecting was the change in lenses that would result from my move to Guatemala, the people I would meet and the stories I would hear.
Today I am working at the Fuerza Aérea Guatemalteca, seeing how current U.S policy has created an influx of deportations into the country. Policies of which have us seeing around 300 deportees a day returning to Guatemala from the US. Each migrant carries a unique reason for migrating. They have difficult stories, often stories of sorrow.
“He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Luke 10:27-29 NIV (The Parable of the Good Samaritan)
I am at the Fuerza Aérea, or Air Force Base, assisting with the most recent flight of Guatemalan deportees. My partner and I assist with an estimated 80 calls that day. It’s often hectic. All are desperate for a phone call, Wi-Fi service, or some financial support to get travel back home. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. How could you possibly be of any impact in that space? I often ask myself, already burdened by the next flight of migrants waiting to offboard there flight. Amongst the crowd of migrants, I notice a confused man just standing there, looking disoriented and distressed.
Immediately, I remember my Papa, a short Mexican campesino with a heart of gold. This man looked like my Papa. Similar height, age, and body composition. I feel my chest tighten.
I approach the man and gently ask him if he needs and help. He tells me no. But continues to stand there. Frozen. What do I do? Do I move on to the several other people needing immediate care? I sense a gentle tug to stay.
I guide the man to sit. I ask him his name and where he is from. His name is Vicente, and he is from an aldea in Huehuetenango. He has no phone, no money, and almost no strength. He looks broken.
I urge him to call a family member and report he has just been deported and needs assistance getting home. But he responds sharply, “No, I can’t bother anyone anymore. I can’t ask them for any more money.”
Immediately I am reminded of the thousands of dollars migrants invest to migrate North. This man is clearly one of those people.
This presents a challenge; how do we get this man home? No money, no I.D., no family contacts.
It’s time to go now and this man will soon to be out, alone in the streets of Guatemala City. This man, who is from an aldea, has probably never been to a city this big before. There is a bit of danger, anonymity and urban-ess that he is unfamiliar with. Having no idea how to get around and where is safe. I urge him again. Please call somebody. He takes the phone, dials, it rings. But no answer.
I proceed to guide him outside with a hundred other migrants who are now released and left to figure out a way to return home. I scan the crowd, looking for a group of people also headed to Huehuetenango. We are desperate.
In steps in Love Economics,
“He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”
Luke 10:34-35 NIV
Outside he finds another migrant friend whom he met at the immigration detention center. This man is awaiting to be picked up by a family member. He lives in the city. I ask him, “Could Vicente stay with you, as he makes arrangements to go back home?”
The man looks at Vicente. They exchange information and he agrees to give him money to pay for his transportation to his home department. I embrace the man with a hug and they leave together.
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:36-37 NIV
There is a concept that guides and challenges my thinking about my faith, migration, and what I encounter every day here. It’s love economics. Love economics challenges me to live differently, where I've experienced Jesus. Where I learn to drink from difficult cups.
May we be inconvenienced by the Vicente’s in our midst,
Challenged by the call of the Gospel to love others,
Our eyes transformed to see strangers like family,
Our way of doing economics challenged,
And would we be willing to drink from those difficult cups,
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lynette is a Latina minister of the Gospel, a lover of her city with a heart to seek prosperity and Shalom. She now serves migrants with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) as a Migrant Shelter Support Worker in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Lynette has a BA in Psychology and is currently pursuing a Master's in Community Leadership and Transformation from Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.