Reflections | July 7, 2021

On the border with CDS

Serving God by loving others

“This is my commandment, that you
love one another as I have loved you”
(John 15:12, ESV)

Over the course of six weeks this spring, Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) deployed three teams of volunteers to the southern border town of McAllen, Texas.

The CDS teams entered a crowded space where families seeking asylum in the US found themselves receiving great love and generosity from a host of volunteers. That loving compassion came in the shape of a welcoming smile, clean clothes, food, and a good night’s sleep before they departed for the next leg of their journey. The facility is the Humanitarian Respite Center, run by Sister Norma Pimentel of Catholic Charities. Her exceptional humanitarian work is something of legend, and she is a true role model and inspiration for all those who witness her efforts.

Most families arriving at the facility have small children who, after a long and difficult journey, are eager for an opportunity to play and just be children. This is where CDS responds to the call to serve. From a room set up as a chapel for Mass, the children exit in a rush and are seen running to the CDS play space, bumping into each other and laughing, eager to secure a good spot at the Play-Doh table. It is one of the most popular spots in the CDS area, with no fewer than 10 children at any given moment. The children take a small pile of dough and sculpt it into a masterpiece of their imagination, with large smiles and joy radiating as they show the CDS team their creations.

I think of this pile of pliable mush as each of us looking to serve God. Just how pliable are we?

Have we sat out on the table too long and become hardened to the work of our master’s shaping hands? Or are we still freshly opened and ready to be sculpted into the masterpiece God intends us to be? One with arms that are open to love, hands that are ready to give, and a heart that radiates joy in the activities where we are called to serve.

How are we loving others? Rather than judge one another, let us lift up our brothers and sisters when they encounter times of hardship. To serve God is to serve others, which is the greatest form of love.

I am grateful for our CDS volunteers who have faithfully responded to this location. As Sister Norma says, “Bringing a smile to a child is so amazing; it is love.”

Indeed, the children’s smiles were abundant. Regardless of what was happening outside the walls of that respite center, inside there was nothing but love, some Play-Doh, and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Lisa Crouch is associate director of Children’s Disaster Services.