Expressing an Experience in Ministry: Food, Clothing Shelter

I spent three days working at a relief center for immigrants entering the USA in south Texas, and it was an intense experience to hear the stories of these wonderful people from El Salvador and Guatemala who are literally fleeing for their lives. Our role was to provide art materials and an opportunity for the immigrants to express their experiences so that the art might be an international public voice of the flight/journey from homeland and family to this funny foreign country called the United States. I asked my participants to express their experience through art journaling. I chose a partially begun journal page (left) which had a sunflower collage with the stenciled words "Life is difficult, that's what life is about. It provides the opportunity to grow as a family and to grow in faith." The sunflower is the state flower of my home state (Kansas) and represented the homeland theme of the immigrants. Of course, the statement on challenge completely resonated with the experience of the immigrants.

 The complete piece is visually messy (below left), but each item within the piece carries significant meaning and tells part of the story of my experience in mission with the immigrants and my team. I began by using cut pieces from a Spanish language free newspaper available from our hotel to create the scene at the relief center. The cut squares represent the stacks of clothing and supplies available to the immigrants. The end of a wine cork worked great to create stamped "people." The peach color represents the immigrants entering the center, and the scatter white and tan "people" represent the volunteers. I included tables at the back of the room where a meal was provided and "GUIA SALUD" (health guide) at the far left where medical services and health items were provided. The art table is the "El Periodico" and the registration area is represented by "USA." The stamped words focus on the message to the immigrants: BIENVENIDOS (welcome) followed by food, clothing, shelter, and time permitting, art.