Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mission Team Prepares for Departure

Honduras Mission and Beyond

This week 11 of us, including myself, will be in Honduras by the grace of God, seeking to serve the people of Honduras as well as the other missionaries with us. What began as a simple call from my brother (who is a doctor in Cleveland) three years ago, asking if I would be interested in serving as priest/chaplain to a medical mission, has evolved into a group of 25 people from the Seattle area going to engage those who are most in need of our help. As the focus of the group from Cleveland remains on medical provision, the northwest teams are evaluating the water quality needs and power generation needs of the Boy’s Ranch attached to our mission. It seems like a fitting gift from the wet northwest, where we tend to have clean water in abundance.

In addition to any material aid we give to the people we will meet, our hope is to also be a source of encouragement to them. There is a moral strength that comes from visitors who have invested time and energy in helping someone whose options can be so limited. There is a realization with the children of Sr. Maria Rosa, who runs Sociedad de Los Amigos de Los Ninos, that they are not alone in the world, as difficult as it may be. Aloneness is perhaps the most debilitating cross of any suffering. While we won’t be able to solve all their problems, we can be with them in those circumstances, if only for a short time.

This encounter of course is not one-sided. Far from it, as anyone involved in charitable work realizes, it’s the giver who actually receives more than the receiver. As St. Francis prayed: It is in giving that we receive. How true, the poor enrich our lives through contact with them. In this exchange, we come to realize our own poverty and short-sightedness. The struggles of these persons to make it through the day can make the ‘hang-nails’ that we call problems rather trivial. Somehow the poor whom Jesus called ‘Blessed’ give us a blessing that endures longer than the pills and potable water that we might give.

I say ‘we’ above as if we are all rich, but I know there are people in our own community who struggle to afford humane housing, medicine and other necessities. Some have suffered loss of home and job. Still others know the pain of other devastating loss. Poverty comes to all our doorsteps in one form or another. The Christian task is to greet it with faith, hope and love. May love meet our own poverty that we might comfort our neighbor, whether they are in Honduras, across the street, or in our own home.

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