Lectionary Year A
March 28, 1999
Step V: Hermeneutical Bridge
Used by permission from Lectionary Tales for the Pulpit by Merle G. Franke.
As A Migrant Worker
Migrant workers poured across the Rio Grande by the thousands every year with their green cards, which allowed them to work in the states. They often came by families, working the harvests all the way up the mid-sectin of the United States. But a large percentage of them never got beyond the Rio Grande Valley where vast farms produced great quantities of vegetables and fruit for U.S. dining tables.
While living standards for migrant workers had vastly improved over the years, their life was still difficult. Housing was usually adequate but often crowded. Migrant parents were often torn between sending their children to school or keeping them part of the time in the fields where they could add to the family income. And when the children did attend school, they faced a language deficiency. As schools were required to provide bilingual education because of the Hispanic children, local residents resented the extra cost burden on their school districts. In some ways life for the migrants was only a step or two above the conditions they had left in Mexico or the Central American countries. Even when growers made conscious efforts to make life comfortable for their workers, life as a migrant worker was almost never comfortable.
Hans Schneider was one of the growers who tried to make life more comfortable for his workers. He was a third generation grower on his large spread, and was known miles around as a successful farmer/businessman. He looked forward to spring this year, because he only son George would be graduating from Texas A & M with a degree in agriculture. He was eager to get George started in the business end of his vast operation s he would be able to take over the business - as Hans had from his father.
But at A & M George had studied many additional courses besides business and agriculture. He had also participated in several strong social outreach oriented groups while in college - groups that raised the consciousness of people to the conditions fo the underprivileged - including migrant workers. So when George returned from A & M with his degree in hand, he had his own idea about where he wanted to start his career.
As his dad began one day to suggest where he wanted George to begin, George held up his hand and interrupted, "Dad, I plan to join the migrant workers for a year or two."
"You're going to do what?" his father asked, somewhat perplexed.
George began to explain, "I plan to join the workers out in the field. I want to get a feel for what they are doing. I speak fluent Spanish so that will be no problem. And I plan to live with them in the housing we provide."
Hans was stunned by his son's decision. This didn't make sense. "I don't understand the reason for what you want to do. I ... I was hoping you would start ... " Hans wanted to explain.
"At the top?" George asked. "Father, I appreciate that, but I want to start where the field workers are. I want to be one of them, know how they feel, what they think. Maybe that way we can help them - as well as us."
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