Karen Carmody recounts a trip through the slums of Nairobi and into an orphanage run by nuns. A story told in words, pictures, and videos.
It’s been almost two weeks since we moved to our new mission post. From the jungles to the “Heart of the Amazon” (as it’s known by its inhabitants). It was a 10-hour drive through Peru and its mighty mountains, where our new home awaited. We arrived safely with only the belongings we were able to fit in our truck.
Early on into our time in Peru, I heard about this youth receiving her Sacrament of Confirmation, and that youth her Baptism, and yet another who would be receiving all three of the initiation Sacraments. But I never heard about any classes to teach what the Sacraments were. A man who was supposedly the Catechist told me formation was happening every Sunday. Sundays came and went, and I never observed any classes. Four months had passed: it was time to get to the bottom of this Faith Formation mystery.
But talking to Segundo was not merely an outward act of Christian bravery or heroism that only foreign missionaries can do. This is common courtesy. This is acknowledging and encountering other human beings because they matter and because God loves them. This is how we love others, by paying attention. And this is a call for everyone.
Right away, Sister Gregoria said she wanted to introduce us to some people who needed a new roof. Their house was a dirt floor, rusty tin walls, and a Hefty-bag roof. Our hearts were moved to help Herman, Sara, and their son Gerald. They are a sweet, hard-working couple.
I hate doing the dishes. I always have and I probably always will. I don’t like how long it takes, I really don’t like the way it makes my hands feel, and I really really don’t like touching the soggy fragments of food caught in the drain. But a quote from Mother Teresa is making me rethink things.
On the third day we held the medical clinic in our own town of Pucacaca. One lady came in with her elderly cousin, an 88-year-old frail woman who struggled to walk. The sweet elderly woman must have had her hair colored for the occasion, as she still had the remnants of dye on the skin around her hairline. She had a pleasant demeanor and may have been blissfully unaware of what was going on around her.
Fr. Bernard began in English but quickly switched to Kimeru, the tribal language of Meru, so that everyone could understand – everyone except for us, that is. I haven’t a clue what Father said, but I assume it was beautiful because the people’s eyes twinkled in a very special way.
Many years ago, a wise friend taught me this counterintuitive lesson: When you’re thirsty, serve someone ELSE a glass of water!
The other day a man showed up at the gate of our home. He had seen a poster which I had made advertising a praise and worship night we will host at the church. Our new friend, an atheist who works as a fortune teller in a temple, extended an invitation to Rebekah and I to join his language exchange group, saying that we could come “teach them about Jesus.”
As I walked, my blood started to boil, I was so angry that I was close to tears. We found Fernando hunched under a tree and the boy towering over him.
After we put a big, wooden cross up outside our front door, we had a crazy forty-eight hours. We had been going slow and steady, meeting people one at a time, accompanying the missionary family already here to remote pueblos for prayer services, and brainstorming what this community could use. Moreover, we were still acclimating to the heat, caring for a newborn, and running the kids to and from school four times daily because they each have different daily schedules. Then we put the cross up…
This life in Haiti is one of extremes. One moment rain is pouring down in sheets and the next, the sun comes out and scorches the earth dry again.
He ever so gently chimed in as soon as I was done with my questioning and said, “My daughter, won’t you slow down and look up?” And for a moment, I stepped outside of myself and my struggles and I looked up.
I’m in a country I’ve never been to and I’m staying for the year; it’s really hot and there is no A/C; I don’t know where anything is; and I don’t speak the language. As I write this down I have to admit: that’s terrifying! … Living in Haiti is hard. I can do hard things though, with the help of Jesus.
It is a ministry of encounter, of witnessing to a culture of encounter, and then serving those we meet. In essence, we are seeking out God in the poor, the marginalized, the outcast, the sick, and the forgotten, wherever they may be: physically, socially, visible or invisible.
It didn’t take long for God to remind me that the weakness and inadequacies of my flesh were exactly why He must humble Himself in hiding His glory because He wants to be welcomed into my mess.