The #1 question I am asked when discussing immigration is "What do we do?" In some ways, there's no easy answer to this question. But that's mostly because there's no single answer to this question.
Human migration and our outdated immigration system impact individuals and family on every level. And while that reality may feel overwhelming, it also means there is room for a wide variety of responses and support.
In the past, I have shared an acronym of how the Church can LEAD in welcome:
L = Loving Acts || Many churches are strong in this area: providing rides to the doctor, visiting those in detention centers, or sharing food during a difficult time.
E = Empower || How can we equip immigrants to adjust and thrive in their U.S. life? This might include teaching English or hiring an immigrant or refugee employee so they can provide for their family.
A = Advocate || Some of the issues impacting new arrivals must be addressed by the government. Calling representatives, marching, running for office - all of these can help promote change and welcome.
D = Develop || This approach focuses on the home countries, investing in avenues that create opportunity for local people. It gives them more choice about whether or not they want to emigrate.
It is this last one that has fueled our family's path over the last two years. My husband has been working before dawn and late into the evenings, building a business we hope can create sustainable, meaningful jobs in his home country of Guatemala. The plan is to create construction products - building blocks, pavers, etc. - out of recycled materials, such as plastic, glass, volcanic ash, etc.
It's been an exciting two years already. He's written and rewritten business plans after talking with trusted friends, guides, and business leaders. He's drafted budgets and sat down with accountants and lawyers. He's talked with folks in Uganda, China, and the Ukraine, where this work is already happening. And he's traveled to Brazil to see it in action and be trained on the machinery that is now on a barge, headed toward Guatemala.
After much discussion and prayer, we've decided our family will spend the next few months in Guatemala, getting the business up and running. It's exciting. It's scary.
Our kids are feeling the tension of eagerness and nervousness as well. They are thrilled to relocate to warmer weather and to be with their cousins. They are hopeful to learn Spanish as they'll be attending a local school. But in one conversation, my daughter also stopped me mid-sentence to say, "Mom, could you stop using the word "move" because when you say that, it makes me sad." Fair enough.
And we are not moving, really. We’re headed down this spring, and we’ll return in July, in time to enjoy a few moments of summer before re-starting school here at home.
That's a little update on our family and the ways we are hoping to come alongside families facing difficult circumstances. We would so appreciate your prayers along the way. I will, of course, be sharing about our adventures via email and also on social media (find me on Facebook and Instagram). I have already experienced a few cultural mishaps, and I thanked Billy for not having a blog. He laughed a thousand laughs.
We're grateful for you and all the ways you support our family. Thank you for reading and sharing. Thank you for praying. And if you're interested in sending cash money to support this project, you find out more here. Until next time!
P.S. You can follow our new business on Instagram, too!