Kari and Justin Eller are ELCA missionaries in La Paz, Bolivia. In a recent newsletter, Kari reflects on being an immigrant. Here are some of those thoughts. To support the Ellers, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
On Aug. 26, 2009, Justin and I left the United States as missionaries to Bolivia; in essence, we immigrated to follow God´s call. Our needs are different than many of our immigrant brothers and sisters, but none of that changes the fact that we too are immigrants.
We speak Spanish ﬂuently, but some days we feel less understood than others. Other days though, we are inspired by what we see and do. It is a blessing to work with the Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church and they are adding to the core of who we are and what we are about. Living here has given us so many more opportunities to open our eyes and to truly welcome our neighbor into our lives and be transformed by them. And every morning when we wake up and look at Illimani (the mountain) we remember that while our jobs are big, we are only a small part of God´s plan.
In the Old Testament, we learn of the radical hospitality that should be extended to orphans, widows and foreigners.
The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:34
So look around you. Who are the immigrants and marginalized in your community? How have you welcomed them, shown them the radical hospitality of God´s love?
Or maybe you´re one of those people who hasn´t said anything against an immigrant, but maybe you haven´t spoken up for them either. I am an immigrant. I look like many of you reading this newsletter today. How would you prefer me to be treated? How do you treat others like me where you live? In this post-Christmas season, we reﬂect on how God unexpectedly reveals Godself to us in our neighbor and as a helpless baby in a manger.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31: 8-9
Love always, Kari