Day 2 of Mexico was a beautiful day. The domes in the distance is the Shrine of Guadalupe.
Today we spent the day with the Sisters of Charity. We took a bus through rush hour traffic and saw a mix of Mexico from upper end neighborhood, to business district, to the neighborhood where the sisters live. Their complex is distinctive in the area since it is the color of their habit: white with blue trim.
“You will have breakfast?” This was one of the first questions we were asked by the Sisters of Charity when we arrived today. Number one rule of working with these Sisters of Charity, questions are commands. We already had breakfast, but we were there to do what the sisters say.
We waited in their chapel which is the center of their complex which shows that prayer is the heart of all their work. People praise the work of Mother Theresa and her order of working with the poorest of the poor, but relationship with Christ is the heart of her mission and has to be the start of our mission.
“You will help clean?” After a simple breakfast, the sisters took us to help clean the different floors of their home for mentally disabled people that they care for. Some of us were with kids, some with adults, and some of us were with the older “abuelitas” (grandmothers). Pictures were limited for privacy of the residents but we first mopped floors.
Above: Tanner Thooft of the New Ulm diocese hard at work. Below: Mitchell McLaughlin (Souix Falls), Ben Snyder (aka, me the blogger, from Davenport), Joseph Littlefield (Fargo) and Dale Mallory (Davenport) take a photo break.
“You will help with lunch?” After cleaning, we were blessed to help care for the residents by interacting with them in various ways. We took them outside in wheelchairs to the patio, played, rocked them in chairs, helped feed them lunch literally by feeding them. It was challenging since most of us don’t know or speak Spanish well. However, in sharing our graces of the day, we all noted how being with the Sisters, residents, and volunteers was being part of an authentic, joyful environment. They were not workers and patients, but friends living their life of following Christ together. The picture bellow in their courtyard illustrates this well: “Immaculate Heart of Mary: cause of our joy, bless your Missionaries of Charity.”
Those of us with the “abuelitas” were in a small kitchen and dining room with about 20-25 of the “abuelitas” with various stages of disability. It could be described as a standard nursing home, but more simple. But the longer we were there, the more it felt like a family with each contributing as they could. One who could read would read the names on their cups while one who could walk would give them out. One who could eat would feed another. One who could talk would speak for one who could not. One of my classmates shared how he witnessed two who could not speak, but when one was wheeled over, the other gave a hug. Even in the volunteers who came in, it was obvious that they and the sisters weren’t there to give something to these people, but to spend time with their friends.
“You will do adoration and benediction?” We ended our day with adoration with the sisters, once again showing that prayer is the heart of this joy in their community. This is the Source of the joy for our lives.
“I thirst—tengo sed.” Such a beautiful meditation after the day. I couldn’t help but think “What is the Lord commanding me to that I turn into a question? “You will follow me? You will love as I love? You will love this person here in front of you?” Do I say no because it is challenging? These Sisters said yes and say yes everyday and here can be found an island of joy in a huge city.