Passage to America
My Mom’s Journey to the United States
by Joanne Troppello
My mom immigrated to the United States with her family—parents and brother and sister—when she was twelve years old. I’ve always loved the fact that my mom was from another country and came here to become a citizen of the US when she came of age.
Several years ago, I was looking through some old family photographs my mom had in an old album and I saw a black and white photograph of my mom and her sister and brother, my Aunt Cathy and Uncle John—and their Tante (Aunt) Miep.
Passage to America
Journey from Holland
I look at the black and white photograph
and it tells me a story.
The three captured in black and white
smile together on a chair by the piano.
Catharina, Wilhelmina, and Johannes,
Nine, ten, and twelve years old.
Near them Tante Miep gazes down
with aunt-like adoration.
Skirted legs are seen in the photograph
in the bottom right corner.
Only half the person I see,
she holds a toy pony in hand.
This is a special day for the three
Vander Lindens and moeder and vader.
They say goodbye to Holland
and leave for America, a new life.
I look at the photograph and see
three young souls captured in print for all time,
my mother, aunt, and uncle.
© Joanne Troppello
My Thoughts on Immigration
I always remember my Oma (grandmother) being proud to be an American. We didn’t discuss too much about her life in Holland before coming to America, but I knew she was happy to be living legally in this country. I remember my mom sharing once that people thought they were German (and not Dutch) and treated them negatively because of the negative connotations of Germans due to what the Nazis had done. My mom and her family had immigrated in 1962. Yes, that was 17 years after World War II had ended, but times were still tense and polarizing.
1. Following the Law
I welcome immigrants to come to the United States, but I don’t condone illegal immigration. I’ve always felt that if my Opa and his family followed all the immigration rules and came here the right way, why shouldn’t other people have to do the same.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. – Romans 13:1-7 (NKJV)
This passage in Romans calls for us as Christians to follow the law of the land. I’ve submitted to those laws as a citizen of this country. I know that God has appointed our leaders. However, I also understand that my true authority is the Lord and I need to follow His guidance in every step I take.
2. Loving Others
A foundational verse in scripture is John 3:16 that depicts God’s love for the entire world and how He sent Jesus to die for all of us to bring us salvation and redemption so we could live with God in Heaven for eternity. That shows me that God loves all people, no matter which country they are from. However, we see in the following passage from Deuteronomy in verse 19, that we should “love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name. – Deuteronomy 10:17-20 (NKJV)
As Christians, we walk a fine line between love and not loving the behavior with regard to illegal immigrants. We need to love all of them, even the violent criminals. Yes, we hope they would be apprehended and sent back to their country so they wouldn’t cause harm or kill others in our country.
Yet not all illegal immigrants are violent or murderers coming here with the intent to harm others. Many are coming here to seek refuge from violence and hardship in their own land. However, there are immigration laws to follow. It’s definitely a difficult balancing act for loving these people while wanting them to come to this country legally.
3. Serving Others
As Christians, we need to make every effort to help those that God places in our pathway. We may never come into contact with any illegal immigrants, but there are some things we can do to make a positive impact.
I know some people may be tuning me out by now. I understand that. However, I hope you continue reading. I totally don’t support illegal immigration, but I do support finding ways to do our part to serve others—if God opens the door for you to do so.
Your Church – Speak to your Pastor about any ministries they have that assist illegal immigrants in need. Churches can legally provide basic needs like clothing, food, medical help, or shelter to illegal immigrants. Most churches won’t necessarily ask to see a person’s immigration status unless they were considering hiring them.
Mission Trips – Consider going on a mission trip with your church. This won’t specifically help with the issue of immigration. However, it will provide you with the opportunity to meet some needs of people in other countries—as well as meet their spiritual needs by sharing the Gospel message.
Research Laws – Research the current immigration laws so you gain a better understanding of what the existing regulations are and understand that reform is likely needed. Consider meeting with your State Senator or local Congressman about your concerns and to ascertain ways you could get involved in cultivating reform to these laws.
Christian Organizations – Get connected with Christian organizations like Faith and Immigration, which is focused on comprehensive immigration reform. Immigration Advocates is a Christian immigration advocacy center. The following article in Relevant Magazine shares 6 organizations like World Relief and International Rescue Committee that help immigrants.
In all things, we should walk in love and offer others grace, like we were offered the best gift of grace through the salvation of Jesus Christ.
What are your thoughts on illegal immigration?
About the Author
Joanne Troppello is an author, writer, and poet. She is the publisher of the online Christian lifestyle magazine, Mustard Seed Sentinel.
Connect with Joanne on Twitter. You can find Joanne on these social media channels—Twitter, Facebook, Parler, Spreely, and Clouthub—with the same username, @JoanneTroppello—and @joannetroppello.mseedsentinel on Instagram. Visit the Mustard Seed Sentinel YouTube Channel.