Thursday, October 2
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Season of Peace
The Presbytery of Elizabeth
Virtually abandoned by her parents in her native Ecuador, young Ana supported herself by selling sacks of onions at the local market. By the time she reached 16, lack of hope for a better life led her to embark on a harrowing two-month journey that would bring her to Plainfield, New Jersey.
She arrived alone and penniless, and also pregnant. Overwhelmed, Ana had no idea how she would support herself and her child.
Fortunately, an Ecuadoran woman took her in and suggested she apply for WIC assistance. Woman, Infants, and Children is a federal nutrition-assistance program for low-income pregnant women and young children. When the WIC secretary realized that Ana had no parents to sign her application, she told her about a place that might be able to help—El Centro Hispanoamericano.
El Centro is an organization housed at United Presbyterian Church of Plainfield and supported by the Presbytery of Elizabeth that has been a home away from home for thousands of immigrants and refugees since 1984. Those who arrive at El Centro’s doors may receive food from its food pantry, sign up for English classes, and receive low-cost legal services from warm professionals who are immigrants themselves.
Ana left the WIC office and walked straight to El Centro. Its legal staff listened to her tell her entire story through tears. Ana was able to apply for legal residency, with the woman who was caring for her serving as her guardian. She is very grateful for the opportunities legal residency allows. Life in Ecuador was a “torment,” but now, she says, “I’m happy because I can give a better future to my child and help my family in Ecuador—not with grandeur but with a little.”
The 11,384 members of the Presbytery of Elizabeth’s 47 congregations worship God in English, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Slovak, and Spanish.
—Lillian Duggan, volunteer, El Centro, Plainfield
Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Cheryl Galan, interim transitional leader
Rev. Paul Rack, stated clerk
Elder Sara Burke, administrative assistant for stated clerk and resource center coordinator
Elizabeth Quintero, administrative assistant for interim transitional leader; evangelism, mission, and communications coordinator
Elder Dave Bomgaars, treasurer
Elder Terry Gleason, bookkeeper
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
Lord God, we know the stories of your wandering people, from Abraham and Sarah to Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Give us open hearts to care for young immigrants throughout the world, and brave hearts to fight for justice in Jesus’ name. Amen.