A new beginning in these strange times: Teaching English here in Mexico

Hope everyone is doing well, given the strange circumstances we’re all living in with the COVID-19 pandemic. I know that many people are getting hit hard, and if you are, my and Patricia’s love and prayers go out to you. We’ve been reaching out to those around us (following all the preventive protocols of course) to give what help we can. As I said in my last post, let us all be angels for each other.

Fortunately, we are doing okay ourselves. We are hunkered down at home, working online and binging on Netflix like so many others. Thank goodness our financial situation is okay. That being said, it could be better, and so I’m glad to be embarking on an exciting new venture: On Monday, I’ll begin a training course for a credential to teach English as a second language here in Mexico.

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My computer is free at last!

My trip to Arizona is going well; I’ll be leaving Saturday morning. I’ll write more about the trip later, but for now I just want to share the good news: After two years, I finally got my computer back! On Wednesday, I want to the Ajo Border Patrol Station and picked it up, along with my external hard drive and my old cell phone. If I may have a little fun with some famous lines of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, my computer is free at last!

P.S. Yes, I’m taking my precautions. I’ve gotten surprisingly good at not touching my face. 🙂 Everyone be safe and healthy!

A chapter is ending in the Arizona desert

It feels like one chapter in the ongoing saga of humanitarian aid in the Arizona desert is coming to an end. First, the government recently dropped the final charge against No More Deaths volunteer Scott Warren. Though he was acquitted of the felony harboring and conspiracy charges against him, he had been convicted of the misdemeanor of driving in a wilderness area, and was awaiting sentencing. But without giving a reason, the government asked U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins to dismiss that charge as well. So, Scott is completely free and clear.

Second, next week I’ll be heading to Ajo to retrieve my computer, hard drive, and cell phone from the Border Patrol. After two years of hearing nothing about these items despite repeated inquiries, I thought I’d never see them again. But when I least expected it, Scott’s lawyer gave me the surprising news that lo and behold, the BP finally responded to her. Thanks to the kind help of David, one of the BP asset forfeiture paralegals, my items have been located and I’ll be collecting them shortly.

Sadly, the death and disappearance of so many people in the Arizona desert continues unabated. The saga of humanitarian aid goes on, for the need is more pressing than ever. But I’ll take good news wherever I can get it!

Update on Maria 2: “Heavy stuff”

I have another update on Maria (whom I originally wrote about using the pseudonym of “Alexa”), the 23-year-old Guatemalan asylum seeker who has been in immigrant detention, separated from the six-year-old niece whom she has raised as a daughter from infancy. It’s truly heartbreaking news, but sadly, a story that is all too common in this time of senseless cruelty.

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The light at the end of the tunnel

After more than two years, I’m closer than ever to finally getting back the computer, cell phone, and external hard drive that the Border Patrol confiscated as evidence in the Scott Warren trial. After talking to several Border Patrol representatives (all of whom have been very kind and helpful) and filling out paperwork, I’ve got everything tracked down and lined up. As of today, it’s a done deal.

All I need to do now is take a trip to the Ajo Border Patrol Station to pick everything up. This station is located in the booming metropolis of Why—a question I’ve asked a lot in the past few years. Why indeed? On this sad day when the Senate acquitted Donald Trump of abuse of power, I can’t help but feel that the undoing of one example of that abuse of power—undoing in the form of the acquittal of Scott Warren and the return of my property that was seized as part of that egregious case—is a sign of hope.

So, a flight to Tucson and drive across the Arizona desert is in my near future. I don’t know “why” this all happened the way it did, but in more ways than one, I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Ajo Border Patrol Station in Why, Arizona. My stuff is somewhere in these buildings. 🙂

P.S. I just learned that today, the day of the Senate’s acquittal of Trump, a federal judge in Arizona ruled that the Trump administration’s prosecution of four No More Deaths volunteers was itself an abuse of power, violating their religious freedom. For me, Judge Rosemary Márquez’s affirmation of the right to help our brothers and sisters as an expression of love, compassion, and conscience is yet another sign of hope. Even on a dark day, there is always light.

“We are family”: Rivals join in mourning Kobe Bryant

Those of us who love basketball were shocked on Sunday to hear of the death of NBA Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gigi (Gianna), and seven other souls in a helicopter crash. But out of this sad event came a joining that really touched me, and I’d like to share that with you here.

A little background: I grew up in Corvallis, Oregon, home of the Oregon State Beavers. I’ve been a fan of the Beavs all my life. On Sunday, the Beaver women’s basketball team was slated to play the arch-rival Oregon Ducks in a battle that is called the “Civil War.” Both teams are top-10 teams, the arena was sold out, and it was nationally televised. Everyone was expecting the usual barn burner that happens every time these two juggernauts meet. I was looking forward to seeing the game.

Gigi (Gianna) and Kobe Bryant
Oregon State and Oregon women’s basketball players in a prayer circle for the Bryants and those impacted by their death.

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British rule is a curse, my dear friend: Gandhi’s gentle firmness

I’ve been immersed in Gandhi lately, both his own writings and a massive two-volume biography (Gandhi Before India and Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World: 1914-1948, by Ramachandra Guha). I’ve loved Gandhi all my life, but my current reading has given me a new appreciation for the blessings he brought to the world.

One thing that has really jumped out at me this time is his rare combination of 1) firm, determined conviction and commitment to action when it came to issues, vision, and principles, and 2) gentle, gracious love when it came to the human beings he interacted with, even his “enemies.” In today’s climate, when a protest is called “peaceful” and “nonviolent” as long as no one physically strikes anyone—even if the protest includes angry chants of “F*** you!” directed toward opponents—Gandhi’s spirit is a breath of fresh air.

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Welcome to 2020!

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! Patricia and I spent the holidays in Guadalajara with her family. Two bits of news to report. The first is very good news: After close to two years, the Border Patrol has finally acknowledged that it has my computer! I’ll be talking with them shortly about getting it back.

The second bit is on the lighter side, but hey, not everything needs to be about serious issues. 🙂 Patricia’s sister Coco (with whom her daughter, Marina, is living) got a new addition to the family: a sweet and crazy kitten named Janis (after Janis Joplin). Isn’t she a cutie? In this surely very eventful year to come, I trust that she’ll remind us to set our troubles aside and have a little fun now and then! 😺

 

Update on Alexa (Maria)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about a woman going under the pseudonym “Alexa” (who has since given permission to use her real name, Maria). I now have a brief update on her situation.

To recap: Maria is a Guatemalan asylum seeker who has been separated from her six-year-old niece—now referred to by the pseudonym “Flor”—whom she has been raising as a de facto daughter ever since the murder of the girl’s mother (which happened when Flor was an infant). Maria is currently in immigrant detention in Arizona, while Flor is in a foster shelter in New York. A coalition of over two hundred US faith leaders signed a letter petitioning for Maria’s release so that she and Flor can be reunited. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had the honor of translating their messages of love and hope into Spanish so Maria could read them.

Arizona Rep. Kelli Butler speaking at a press conference for Maria and Flor

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