Enter the monastery. My shift was from noon to 3 p.m.; folding clothes would be my bag. The well-organized, super well-stocked free-clothing shop welcomed migrants already approved for political asylum: “Born to be UA Wildcat” onesies for newborns; jeans for every size and shape; colorful Southwestern tops and dresses; even size one sparkly boots for little ones on their way to Minnesota.
We were ready. But the building was quiet today, not like last Friday when I dropped off clothing for the newcomers. “We’re expecting 400 more people tonight,” one woman said then. We had seen people arriving in large Department of Homeland Security buses as we strolled by on our way to a movie at the Loft Cinema.
“There are only 70 people here, with 25 more expected later,” the same woman said today.
So I quietly folded a giant bag of new unisex t-shirts. Apparently, the sorting room emptied out prior to Easter. Not anymore. Crates stacked high, marked with their contents, await the next influx of migrants. Human beings who have somehow made it from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador. Places no longer hospitable to them.
Here, three meals a day await them in the immaculate comedor (dining room).
I say “Hola” and smile at everyone I pass.
This home away from home exudes kindness. Formerly occupied by a few elderly nuns, it welcomes all. Spanish-speaking volunteers accompany a mother and her two children, each carrying a donated new pillow for dreaming sweet dreams.
Last week I felt heartened watching so many smiling kids as they blazed around the monastery yard on toy vehicles and tiny bikes. Going fast. Weaving between fruit trees. Trying out their new world.
I wonder what the family’s next stop in our scary country will offer?
I wish them well.