“After all I’ve done for you ….”
Many of us have used those words with our children – or heard them from our own parents! But those words came alive for our Latino youth group this summer as teens spent time interviewing their parents, hearing their stories, and sharing stories of their own.
LUCHA Ministries’ youth program, Project 3D, seeks to increase Latino teens’ sense of personal, spiritual, and cultural dignity. We focus on increasing self-esteem, growing closer to God, and appreciating Latino heritage and culture. This summer, with the help of Amy Beth Willis and Jessie Tamayo, summer interns through CBF’s Student.Go program, youth were challenged to talk with their parents about aspects of their lives that are many times difficult and painful subjects: “How did you (or we) get to the US?” “What was your life like before?” “Who did you have to leave behind?” “Is life better for us here?” Here are some of the things our teens heard and shared:
“My mom was very young and had a baby, and they were really poor. When she came to the US, my grandmother wouldn’t let her take the baby with her. My mom hasn’t seen her oldest daughter since she was 2 months old. My sister is 23 now and has never met any of us.”
“My mom told me that she and her brother were so poor that they would watch people at the store buy ice cream in little cups. If the person threw it away before it was finished, they would run to the trash to get it out, so they could have ice cream, too . . . It hurts her when we don’t like the food she fixes. She says we’re lucky to have a choice. She was lucky just to have food.”
“My dad must have loved my older sister more than me, because when I was born, he left for the US. When he came to Mexico to visit us once, I wouldn’t let him carry me or hold my hand. I remember that he began to cry, and my mom cried. After that, he found a way for us to come to the states to be with him.”
“I know things are hard for my parents here, and they have struggled. For a while, all five of us were living in one single room . . . My parents want to go back home to Mexico. Life is too hard here for them. But we are older and have jobs now, and we’ll be OK.”
“I stayed with my grandparents when my family came to the states, and I came when I was four. I didn’t know I had a brother who was two years older than me, or a sister, and I didn’t know my parents. But my brother remembers packing up his toys and sending them to me in Mexico, but I didn’t know he even existed.”
Sacrifice is not limited to any one culture. The trials many of these youth and their parents have gone through often put whatever difficulties we’ve had in life to shame. Jessie and Amy Beth challenged the youth to listen to their parents’ hearts and struggles. “After all I’ve done for you….” For any with ears, let’s listen to what the Spirit is saying through the stories of our immigrant neighbors and friends.