Friday, July 9, 2010
Mississionaries of Charity Summer Camp
After one of my last meetings with our beloved (and transferred now) priest, I received some very important advice. It was after my confession and counseling on how to deal with my anger, disappointment, and depression after the 3rd m/c. He is the most wonderful priest on the planet: completely selfless, humble, devout, I can't say enough wonderful things about him, and he gives the best advice and counsel in all things. He told me to be very careful of "navel gazing", or being so wrapped up and consumed in your own problems that you constantly are gazing to yourself instead of others. By spending time with others and helping others with 'their' problems, you start to worry about your own less, and in the process feel better mentally and emotionally by helping others as well. He encouraged me to find a charity or positive organization to focus some attention on to help curb my navel gazing.
At first I thought about Birthright, which is an organization aimed to help pregnant women find resources, help, counsel, and dissuade them from abortion. I thought to myself now THIS would definitely be selfless of my with my problems, but also would continue my navel gazing. So I decided to volunteer at the North Memphis Mississionaries of Charity. They have a summer camp for the poorest of the poor in which they have Bible class, movies and arts and crafts, singing, sports, singing, and field trips 2 x a week. I went to the volunteer meeting a few weeks ago and had decided to only help once or twice a week. I thought I may be pregnant and would be feeling sickly so I assumed I wouldn't be able to help much. I also thought it would be stressful and I am trying my darndest to relax and enjoy my summer break. Well after my first day, I knew I would want to come back more and more and more.
The sisters have mass at 7 before the campers arrive at 745 for breakfast. I cannot describe to you how much that mass touches my heart. I literally cried throughout the entire thing off and on, party "navel gazing" and partly at their sheer lack of desire of all things I desire materialistically and their intense love of the Lord. I can't wait to go back to mass next Monday and feel that supreme inner peace again, it is like a drug, I tell you! Mass consisted of two of the sisters (there are only 4 of them and 2 were outta town) 2 visiting Notre Dame students, and one mother and her two children who are staying at the sister's homeless women's shelter. It was in their chapel with no air conditioning and no kneelers or chairs. We enter in total silence and remove our shoes. It is simplistic but totally beautiful.
My class is "Little Flower" which consists of girls ages 5-7. There is a hispanic girl who I am so partial to :) 4 african american girls, and 2 caucasian girls. We start the day with breakfast for the children (many of whom haven't had nourishing food in awhile) then song practice - the kids totally love Fr. Abraham had many sons - then we have Bible lessons with the sisters, video of a saint, arts and crafts, sports, then distribute their lunches and they leave, most of them walking home in extreme heat. Speaking of extreme heat, the sister's house has no a/c, and Memphis is one of the most hot and humid places in the south. I start to complain and then look at the precious sisters in mile and mile of sari cloth with sweat beading at the lip and brow and immediately again quit navel gazing.
Yesterday we took a field trip after breakfast to a community center pool in a "not so safe" area, but I felt not one bit of fear with the children and the sisters. We loaded up in a old hot bus and sang songs the whole way there. None of these children are Catholic, so we help them with the sign of the cross and they repeat the prayers and try to sing along with us. Most of the older children know the songs after years of coming, but the little ones are still learning :) The pool was indoor luckily! but still steamy and my eyes were burning from the insane amount of chlorine. The kids had an awesome time, but the best memory I have is one of the sisters holding a small boy crying in the kiddie pool and she was sopping wet while she consoled him. Such a beautiful sight.
I want to share a beautiful prayer we volunteers pray together every morning before the camp begins:
Dear Lord, the great healer, I kneel before You since every perfect gift must come from you. I pray, give skill to my hands, clear vision to my mind, kindness and meekness to my heart. Give me singleness of purpose, strength to lift up a part of the burden of my suffering fellow men and a true realization of the priviledge that is mine. Take from my heart all guile and worldliness that with the simple faith of a child, I may rely of You. Amen SING: Be with us Mary along the way. Guide every step we take. Lead us to Jesus, your loving Son. Come with us Mary, come!
I can't wait to get back to the camp on Monday :)