It is amazing how life hands one experiences in waves. So, not so long ago, I was dealing with the distance-traveler blues. Now, I am riding on a new wave of energy and joy. I must say that the latter is far more desirable than the former. Well, no duh. These past couple of weeks I had set to devote more of my energy to the Mission with Father José Romero. This past Saturday the church hosted and Ecumenical Brigada. For those who don't know what a Brigada is (heaven knows I had no clue before I saw it in action), it is a day where all sorts of social services are provided to any who have need to attend. This includes dental, general health, vaccinations, physical therapy, medicines, clothing, hair cuts, a bag of basic food items per houshold (rice, flour, oil, hot-choclate mix, pasta, etc.) and other services. The week leading up to this event I went to the mission earlier in the day to help out with preparations. This included making up the pray leaflets (if that is what they are called). It also included two solid days of sorting through and organizing the medicines that had been donated. Then typing out an alphabetical list of the meds (10 pages). By Saturday morning of the Brigada most of the meds had ben mixed up again, having been consolidated to 3 tables and the carefully written alphabetical list.... I have no idea if what I did was at all usefull, but I loved doing it all. Such a project to participate in, really gave me something to look forward to and it was so very important to Father José, the parish community and the community that benefited from all of the services offered. I had never known of a Brigada before, but now I have a much clearer idea of how they get put together.
Along with this our time working with the Children is growing more rich. Through God's grace and a firm hand, Dylan is now doing very well in class. His hick-ups are no more distracting than Santiago's, who also is behaving himself much better these days. Doling out discipline is hard, and not fun, I felt like the bad guy. Blahk! However to see the fruits of a group who work and play together so much more smoothly is a great gift and reward. Dylan, who before, would only stand attached to me and Audra during play time, is now being pulled into games with the other kids. They call for him to come join them. It is such a sweat treat for me when I hear this. They are more direct to search us out when they need a hug, which we give out with joy and sincere love. During the Brigada I got the chance to meet some of their parents/families again. It is really nice to see their smiles and looks of recognition. During the closing prayers Audra and I sat with Dylan and his cousin. Next to Dylan was a women who might have been his mother. She seemed to be simply miserable. Not in an outlandish way...no. She is a lovely young women who just seemed insulated in sadness and distress. This mood transfered to Dylan, who at one moment was playing with me the next was on the verge of tears unwilling to make eye-contact with me (perhaps the women did not like him interacting with us). After some persuading he came out of this and came to sit between me and Audra and his liveliness returned. I first saw the young women smile when it was time for their family to pick up their care package of food goods. We even shared in a joke about not finding a 'gallinero' (hen house) in the bag.
Poverty affects an individual and the individual affects the community. Some of the community members would not be found without a smile, giving warm regards and loving on their children. Others seemed trapped in despair and joylessness, which might be hopelessness (although, I do not know them well enough to judge their conditions). It is times like these that I feel so set apart from understanding, set apart from their suffering. I have been blessed to have had all of my needs overwhelmingly provided for... food that is not just to fill the belly but feeds the soul, an abundance of beautiful memories filled with love, a supportive and incredible family...etc. I don't know what it is to really be without. Does that mean that I cannot connect with the pain of this women? I hope not. Audra suggested that one can not consider the pain of one against the pain of another because when a soul is distressed a soul is distressed and needs healing no matter if you are wealthy or in desperate poverty. This seems to resonate with Christ's call to serve the poor. Scripture does not only mention the poor of money, but above all the poor in spirit. In this there are two ministries. One, to give clothing, food and shelter to the one who is without. The other is to offer the life in Christ to the poor in Spirit. In my experience when the poor in Spirit sets to serve the one without both are served in a glorious way.
Love in our Lord Christ,