Today (Tuesday July 13) was my second da at Alterna. I woke up at 6:00am to attend Morning Prayer. For their morning prayers they choose not to use a liturgy because the prayers need to be bilingual (for those who compile prayer liturgy and are reading this and are bilingual you should get on that). Instead, they read scripture, take time for centering prayer, and read a historic prayer like the prayer of St. Augustus, St. Patrick etc since most of those prayers are translated into multiple languages.
After prayer I came back to Anton’s house and we had breakfast then headed out for the day. Anton first gave me a tour of LaGrange. LaGrange is split up into four areas: North West LaGrange, North East LaGrange, South West La Grange, and South East LaGrange. Take a wild guess at how each area got it’s name. Anton told me that areas get more impoverished and higher concentration as you move from one area to the next in the order that I explained above. There are so many stories that I could share about the tour but there are two in particular that stand out.
Possibly the most disturbing part of the tour was when we passed by a school that had been closed down. Anton informed me that the school district had recently built some new schools even though there was not a bad problem of overcrowding. The school that had been closed down was the only school in South East LaGrange and one of the reasons it had closed was because there were some students (primarily white) who were being bused in and their parents didn’t like that so they moved, drove their kids to s different school, or caused uproar at city council. As a result, this school was closed and now there are kids that have to be bused as far off at 12 miles rather than walk to a school across the street. The additional problem that it adds is that many of the families in the area cannot afford their own car and so a taxi to the school (for PSA meetings, picking up a child early for being sick, etc) would cost $8 each way. This was one of the problems in the area that Anton and Alterna spoke out against but unfortunately their voice was not heard.
The next story that stuck out to me was when Anton told me about roadblocks being sat up around the town. He said there were 198 roadblocks last year alone. In these road block the primary problem is that if an undocumented immigrant is pulled over they will obviously not have a driver’s license and be fined almost $1200. There was one instance where an undocumented immigrant was simply driving home and he noticed a roadblock two blocks away but he did not need to pass through it because his house was before the roadblock. When he pulled into his driveway, the police ran up and asked him and his friend for their ID and when they did not have it they were each fined. Anton tried to get them to go to court and argue against the fine since the police did not have the right to do that but they were too afraid to do so. The same thing happened about a month later to another person but this time Anton convinced him to contest it and the charges were dropped. Some say that undocumented immigrants “drain are system” yet last year alone in LaGrange there were over $198,000 in fines for driving without a license alone!
As I mentioned before, I could write much more about my day but rather than ramble on and on I want to mention one more thing I did with Anton. We went to the jail to visit some Latino inmates and lead a bible study with them. One of the inmates had made a car for Anton out of the Styrofoam trays from the cafeteria and used toothpaste as glue. We had the bible study and after we left we went to visit Anton’s son at summer camp since it was only a block away. When we walked in and said that we had just been at the jail doing a bible study one of the teachers yelled out “A bible Study?! In a jail?!”. I’m sure there are many others who have that same response to visiting prisoners yet Jesus explicitly tells us to visit those in prison. How is it that we as Christians so often miss the most obvious teaching ins scripture such as visit those in prison, care for the alien, feed the hungry, and love your neighbor?
P.S. You may notice at the bottom of the post it says the post is being made by Adam. That is because I do not have access to internet and so I am typing my entries out, loading them to my phone via USB cable, emailing them to Adam Muckleroy, and then he is so graciously posting them for me. Hopefully when I get to Area 15 in Charlotte on Friday I will have internet and wont have to bother him.