“We are Family”
We are all getting to know each other well as we prepare and eat meals together, worship together, participate in faith sharing, teach and work hard together to get projects done. The women are really getting close as all six of us are sharing one sleeping area and a single bathroom. This does not leave much opportunity for primping, which means the team is seeing the “real us.” We are becoming like a family.
At Mass this morning Fr. Mike talked about uniting around family, whether biological or spiritual. In the Gospel Jesus said we are all brothers and sisters. We all have one father, God. Together, we can attain what we cannot get on our own. Fr. Mike said that our world today promotes hyper-individualism. Even in the church we talk about “my parish” or “my program.” We can forget that we are all in this together. That is one of the things that is so beautiful about this mission experience. Although we share things about the communities we worship in, our mission team has truly knocked down any walls of separation between our parish affiliations and become one mission team working together to get things done for God’s people.
After working with our families for two days now, we are getting to know them much more intimately as we share stories of our lives while working for and with them. Nancy’s marriage ended after a traumatic event, leaving her to raise her six children on her own. She stated that she often worked 3 or 4 jobs to take care of her children and she would still stretch her resources to include her children’s friends in meals and family time. Her family has now grown to include her children’s spouses and nine grandchildren. It is very apparent that her family loves her and she deeply loves them. Nancy is very gracious and freely shared her time and faith with us. Although she faces many health issues and difficulties, her mentality is that she is “too blessed to be stressed.”
Teena has lived with hearing impairment since birth. Her high school daughter is also impaired and she has a younger daughter with normal hearing. This year Teena will be working as a teacher’s aide, helping a young boy with hearing impairment function in a school where most children have normal hearing. Many families here live very close to each other, sometimes having multiple homes on one piece of property. This is the case with Teena’s family. Her parents live just down the hill from her. They have all interacted with our team members and even treated our missionaries with their version of fried green tomatoes.
Family loyalty is strongly valued in the mountain area. This is true for Barbara. Although she is no longer married to elderly “Pawpa,” she has taken him into her home to care for him as his health is declining. This is the reason for needing a handicap ramp. Their daughter, Dayna, her husband, Brandon, and their son, Bentley, are also living there. Bentley is quite a precocious 5-year-old. He has intently watched the building process and offered much good advice.
Most of our projects are very close to completion. All teams worked very hard. Tomorrow will be a day off work, but filled with other activities. At evening prayer we expanded on Fr. Mike’s homily and discussed being brothers and sisters in Christ and part of a Christian family. Our hope is that this mission experience will change us and strengthen us. We send our thanks back home to our Christian families with our assurance that you are in our daily prayers.