During the 2006 service trip we learned that Blanca, the school caretaker and grandmother to the students, had recently lost her daughter Mirna. In an effort to cross the US border, Mirna died in route and Blanca was not at all satisfied with the sketchy and inconsistent stories coming her way. She needed answers and wondered if we could help.
And so Mark Felsher began a search into the death of a 35 year old woman he had never met. He located someone in Texas who was willing to look at the records, explaining that Mirna and another woman had begun to lag behind while walking the twenty miles around a border control check point, and how the rest of the group, save one, had voted to leave the two women to perish of heat stroke in the Texas swelter. These two women were among the fifty bodies recovered around that one check point that particular year.
On a return trip to Guatemala Mark explained the cause of death to Blanca and Mirna’s brother. Because she had never ventured beyond Guatemala City’s moderate climate, Blanca did not understand heat stroke. She didn’t understand 100% humidity, the difficulty of walking in dry sand, or the kind of people whom her daughter had joined in this perilous effort. Besides the very difficult details of this story, Mark was struck by the disparity of resources available to Blanca- for her the obstacles to getting answers had been insurmountable.
“It occurred to me,” Mark shared, “how much Blanca needed someone like me to help ease her loss. This had nothing to do with any special ability or expertise on my part but simply because of where God decided I should be born and my willingness to give a little time. The answers I was able to provide took the fire out of Blanca’s heart allowed the healing to begin. At the same time I began to see how much I needed Blanca in my life to roust me from my ignorance about so many of the difficulties from which we Americans are exempted. I am further humbled by Blanca’s continual deep gratitude that far outweighs the effort I expended on her behalf.”
Blanca and Mark have become great friends in the years since. Despite the fact that the language barrier prevents them from having the most basic of conversations, their hearts are connected for life.
“Multiple times every day I am
reminded of these events when I use the wallet Blanca gave me to show her appreciation,” Mark continued, “I wish every American could have a Blanca
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