I wanted to take a moment to share a little peek into our life here south of the boarder. My wife—or presbytera in Greek circles or kuria in Antiochian circles or matushka in Slavonic circles—and I have completed seven years living at the St. Innocent Orphanage. Yes, it has been an adjustment, especially for my presbytera who was raised in a traditional Greek family—an experience very different than life in Tijuana.
In our years here we have had many new experiences that come with living in a third world country and in a foreign culture. One of these experiences was the immigration of thousands of Latin Americans traveling through Mexico hoping to find asylum in the United States. It definitely did not go as well as most of them were hoping but I would like to share some of the realities we have seen being on the ground.
Recent statistics tell us that the vast majority of the migrants have chosen to seek Mexican work visas or returned to their home countries. According to the Associate Press (see link below) of the 6,000 migrants in the caravan 1,300 people have returned to their home countries, 2,900 have received Mexican humanitarian visas that permit them to work in Mexico, and 1,300 migrants have been detained. The temporary shelters in Tijuana have been closed and migrants have integrated into the community, living in permanent housing accommodations.
At the height of the Migrant Caravan event, the city of Tijuana had several pockets of migrants waiting in tents looking for guidance for the next step. Because of the hundreds of displaced that were in these temporary camps, the local municipalities were burdened to say the least. Despite the sheer numbers, Mexican authorities handled the situation well and at no time did it become a national crisis for the country.
Yes, the border was closed for several hours coming into America, but everyone forgets to mention that there was another border crossing that was kept open less than 20 miles to the East. At no time did any of the missionaries feel “trapped” or in danger. We are grateful that the situation has calmed and that those individuals and families are finding stability.
So people always ask me, “Is it safe to travel to Tijuana?” or “Will I be able to get back into the United States?”
The answer to both these questions is, “Yes.”
As an Orthodox priest, husband and father, and the Associate Director of Project Mexico, I would not be living here with my family if it wasn’t safe or we couldn’t travel freely. And, I definitely would not bring hundreds of youth to the ranch every summer unless I could ensure their safety.
We understand the fear people have.
How the nature of media can exacerbate and fuel those fears. But I encourage all us who have been called to help the families, orphans and widows to come and live the gospel. Let us not be controlled by people’s biased opinions or false perceptions, rather, let us be guided by strength and love to courageously give and change the lives of those who are truly in need.
Thank you for your support of the ministry and please if you have any question you can contact me on my cellular phone which works perfectly fine in Mexico.
Fr. Nicholas L. Andruchow
Project Mexico & St. Innocent Orphanage
Spagat, E. (2019, January 16). Last year's Central American caravan dwindles, new one forms. Retrieved from https://www.apnews.com/be98c131631d49f0943e1f7ac6a4993b