“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26, NIV
Over the past few months, several surprises have emerged as we explore what it means to offer a place of refuge here at UPUCC. Chief among those surprises is that WE have understood and felt more viscerally what this place, this refuge, means. Eliseo and his family have inhabited our building, yes, but even more so they have moved into our hearts and our community. UPUCC has become more of a sanctuary for all of us!
More of that story is found below but, to cut to the chase, as Eliseo has always been the primary bread winner for his family, we want to provide opportunities for him to continue that support. (In truth, his desire to fight his deportation to support his family is integral to his being IN Sanctuary.)
Eliseo has begun making beautiful works of unique folk art- bird sanctuaries. In early February the first ten birdhouses he made were auctioned (5 online and 5 in a live auction) and winning bids averaged $300.
If you would like to pre-order one (for a minimum suggested donation of $200), Eliseo would be delighted to continue creating these working pieces of folk art.
To place your pre-order, contact Doug Long via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are encouraged to share this information with others who may also like to assist in the support of Eliseo’s family.
More of the Story!
The first month or so that he was here, Eliseo walked within our space, looking for things to fix… and then fixed them. Carpets were suddenly cleaner and walls freshly painted. Light fixtures brighter, the kitchen floor spotless, missing trim missing-no-more… vacuums worked! (In a sense, Eliseo’s practice of ‘seeking out problems and fixing our structure’ was a metaphor for our task as well… In the structure of our society there are egregious flaws apparent… We seek to address them.)
…And when Eliseo had fixed everything he could identify, he looked for other constructive ways to spend his time. (Continually being constructive while totally dependent upon the community you have entrusted yourself to… day in and day out, week in and week out… Can we even begin to imagine Eliseo’s persistence, fighting to stay with his family… the only option being self-incarceration, separating himself from them the great majority of the time?) We find ourselves in awe. His humor, positive attitude, and gracious way of being leads some of us to believe Eliseo is a magical human being.
Under the tutelage and direction of Gary Welsh and several others, Eliseo has begun diligently working towards a GED. He graciously grants interviews to reporters, churches, college students and others who are curious or concerned about his plight. He continues to address small repairs around the church and also assists The Justice Theater Project in various ways. On weekends and holidays, he happily spends time with his children and wife- Allison, Christopher and Gabriela.
… And, in his spare time, Eliseo has begun fashioning bird houses. (Peter van Dorsten suggested we call them bird sanctuaries!). Because he had never built a bird house before, because he had marginal tools at his disposal, because he did not pursue the idea when it first came up in conversation, we imagined his houses would be rudimentary and simple. Not so! These ‘bird sanctuaries’ are true treasures, unique and beautiful pieces of folk art that double as places of refuge for the birds of the air.