“The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve”
What a busy day we had! Although we could sleep a little later this morning, some of the team was still up pretty early. Did I mention the close quarters we are sleeping in? Needless to say, once one person is up, pretty much most of us are up. We did have time to have a hot breakfast of breakfast pizza, though.
We started our day back at the Point of Hope center with the group from Pennsylvania. Together with the mission’s interns (seminarians) we went on a prayer walk on the streets of Louisa. We prayed the Glorious mysteries of the Rosary, offering it up for the people of Louisa. While we were praying the 3rd mystery, the descent of the Holy Spirit, a man named Pat saw us doing the prayer walk while he was driving down the street. He felt called to turn his car around and stop to talk to us. He asked us to pray for his family. He told us that he was going to pick up his daughter and bring her home to live with him and his wife. His wife is very sick and in hospice. Right there and then we surrounded him and offered prayers for the benefit of his family. After several hugs and blessings, he was back in his car and drove away. We then prayed the rest of the Rosary on the streets of Louisa. David, our intern, told us that nothing like that has happened before. I believe that the Holy Spirit was working through us to give Pat a safe and supportive place to unload a little bit of his burden.
After the walk we stopped at the mural of the city and learned about some of the town’s unique attributes. We then walked to the Fred M. Vinson Museum. He was from Louisa and became Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1946. After learning about Chief Justice Vinson’s life we then drove to the St. Jude thrift store where local musicians gather every Wednesday morning and sing gospel songs. We, in turn, had to perform our song. Using our homemade percussion instruments we invited the crowd to join us as we sang a lively rendition of “City of God.” On a sad note, we offered condolences to Miss Mae, the woman who runs the thrift store. Two weeks ago her son was killed when he was hit by a car while he was out walking at night. Knowing about the accident, we didn’t expect to see her there. But she said she finds her peace at the store, serving others, and especially is touched by all of the music. Again, there were plenty of hugs to go around.
In the afternoon we were broken into smaller teams again and sent out on “well visits.” These are visits with former clients of the mission or nursing home visits. We are just there to share the gift of presence. I believe that all of us would agree, though, that we always seem to get more than we get from these interactions. At one of the homes the missionaries were sung to by the home owner, Oscar. He sang about opening up the door of our hearts and letting Jesus into the place that you don’t let anyone see. The song urged to let go of guilt and shame and come away with a clean heart. It was beautiful.
Another group was touched by the story Rita, the manager of the nursing home, told about her son. He lost his job in the coal mines when the mines were closed down. He had a young family to care for and was almost done receiving unemployment benefits as he searched for another job. When he finally got a job offer as a truck driver, he struggled with his conscience and prayed for God’s guidance. He was taught that drinking alcohol was a sin and the job was to deliver beer. If he delivered the beer, he felt he would be contributing to causing someone else to sin. He also wanted to provide for his family, though. Right before he had to decide, he was offered another truck driving job that did not have these conflicts. He felt that God had answered his prayers and honored his desire to do the right thing.
Our third group visited a grandmother who had fought for custody of her 2 grandchildren because they were being abused in many ways in their parent’s home. This is somewhat of a struggle for her as her health is not great, but she felt she needed to protect the children. While the group was standing together in a circle praying at the end of the visit, the woman got very unsteady and light-headed. The team was able to prevent her from falling and injuring herself. They waited for some other family members to come and help her before leaving. God put them at the right place at the right time.
This evening started with an hour of Eucharistic Adoration followed by Mass. Fr. Mike spoke about how God wants us to serve Him and the church. He said that there are two definitions of being a martyr. One is to die for the faith, the other is to witness to the faith. We are being called to be martyrs by witnessing about Jesus’ love and mercy and generosity by living these things.
After Mass we rushed home to prepare a pasta dinner to share with Cindy and Dominic from the mission. After dinner they told stories about Fr. Beiting, the founder and name sake of the mission. He worked tirelessly for the people of this region until he died at the age of 88. Fr. Beiting actively served and he always encouraged others to talk to God about how He wanted them to serve. Since it was late when Cindy and Dominic left, we kept evening prayers short but did talk about our service this week and any surprises we may have experienced.
I told you it was a busy day. Time to finally get to bed for a little sleep before 7am Mass again tomorrow. Blessings to you all. We are feeling the benefit of your prayers.