by Sr. Pamela Buganski —
Lately, I have been spending much time serving amidst the Central American refugees at the Sacred Heart Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas. In the days before Thanksgiving, it seemed that the border patrol was attempting to empty out their processing center. Therefore, we had hundreds of refugee mothers with children or fathers with children coming through the small center: A daily disaster area.
I say that I am serving “amidst” the refugees because many of the refugees assist as volunteers while staying at the shelter waiting to join family. I found myself constantly thanking these generous volunteers.
I arrived at 2:00 pm and looked at the HUGE mountain of donated items. I knew that I needed help. I walked outside and asked the first two teenage refugee young ladies that I found if they would help me. What wonderful assistants! They worked tirelessly at a thankless job for five straight hours (and the pile looked no different when we stopped). After that, these two assisted at the showers, served water to others who were washing down the sleeping tents and moving sleeping mats, and cleaned out and organized the “linen closet.” I watched their gentle confidence grow into leadership and servant-ship. It was such a blessing to work alongside of them.
It was getting later and later. I knew that we needed to “shift” the mountain of donations for the night. I asked the first father and son refugees that I saw to help me. I explained the task in my best Spanish and they took over. The mountain moved one bag at a time. As I walked by them time and again doing other things, I stopped to pat them on the back, look them in the eye and thank them. Not only had they been served at the center, they had served with love.