The day before Thanksgiving was cold and rainy as I hopped on the X2 bus heading downtown for my volunteer shift at a DC immigrant rights organization’s detainee hotline. It was only my third shift, and I mentally prepared myself for an intense two hours of doing my best to communicate legal advice in Spanish (which I do not really speak) over the phone. When I arrived, I was pleased to see that another volunteer was already there. I knew he spoke Spanish, so my anxiety about communicating accurately was eased a bit. We settled into the shift, chatting a bit about holiday plans around the calls coming in every couple of minutes. Halfway through the shift, I received a call from a man who spoke no English, but who needed a message delivered to him. I called over my fellow volunteer, who greeted the man and began to translate the message. I slowly comprehended the words as he spoke. The other volunteer was telling the man that his case was being reopened. He would be given a chance to stay in the United States with his children, from whom he had been separated. When the other volunteer finished, the man asked him to repeat the message, disbelieving. Then we could hear the comprehension dawning, as he exclaimed his thanks. I didn’t need to understand Spanish to hear the joy and hope in his voice. I give thanks to God that a family now has hope of reunification, and that I get to witness that hope being spread.
I’ve had the chance to volunteer at the immigrants’ rights organization through my work placement at Service Never Sleeps. The job description includes the possibility of volunteering 10 hours a month as a way to engage in active allyship and apply the learning I gain from the trainings and other educational sessions I get to attend as part of the job. The idea of being an active ally to marginalized groups aligns with the PC(USA)’s commitment to being a “Matthew 25 church,” and I’m finding both Jesus’ urging in that verse and the concept of allyship helpful in guiding my exploration of how I want to live into Christianity. Especially in this season of giving and hope, I’ve been grateful to have the experience of working at the hotline to remind me of what is important in my faith as I prepare my heart for the coming of Christ. It’s inspiring to see how many people give their time and energy to provide hope to people longing for answers about an uncertain future, and I’m glad I get to work alongside them.
I wish everyone a very merry Christmas full of joy, hope, love, peace, and giving! See you in the New Year.