Instead of cleaning out my freezer, I could have been looking over the shredded remains of our home. I could have been facing the loss of everything we own. God protected us from that devastation, and although I rejoiced for a day or so, I immediately fell back into self-pity over a few hours of gross housework? How quickly I forget!
I never knew living in solidarity with the poor meant being locked away from them for weeks! I think about what St. Paul must have felt when he was imprisoned: his ministries were halted by the authorities and he was unable to share the Good News as he planned. However St. Paul did not sit idle during his confinement.
Some days I feel like I’m not doing much—I have this vision of getting up in front of the congregation, preaching the Gospel from my heart to a church full of people and playing guitar while leading beautiful hymns. Then reality hits: I don’t speak Spanish that well, and I can’t play the guitar. This missionary life has been a lesson in putting what little I have at the disposal of the Holy Spirit, even my weakness.
The first night was interesting for sure. The nights still got down to the 40s and, without heat, we were a little chilly. There were a bunch of noises, too, to feed our imaginations: some weird squealing (which we think now is a nighthawk), a rooster who must be jet lagged too as he started at 2am, and then stray dogs barking for what seemed like hours at a time. We were rattled by the initial shock of being in such a different place. The next morning, the reading was from Mark 4 where Jesus calmed the storm and I felt like the Lord was speaking to me when he said, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” (Mark 4:40)
I burst into tears. Perhaps one of the hardest things about being a missionary is seeing that, in spite of our efforts to live in solidarity with the poor, there exists a world of difference in the opportunities available to us and to them. Try as I might, I’ll never truly understand the plight of the poor.