News Flash! This week and our work here is not about us.
Today we ended our evening with the Ignatian Prayer for Generosity:
Lord, teach me to be generous: to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost;
to fight and not to heed the wounds;
to toil and not to seek for rest;
to labor and to ask for no reward
save that of knowing I do your will. Amen
We are discerning God’s will in the context of our work here. Why are we here? What do we hope to do? What is our relationship to the community we are serving? How do we see the face of God in them, in ourselves, and in our combined efforts? We keep listening for God’s will .
I think we heard it late in the day as we listened to Pastor Eric’s moving account of the days, weeks, and months after Hurricane Maria hit. Trees down everywhere. No phones. Uncertainty about the safety of friends and relatives. Checking on all 180 members of his congregation by bike because roads were blocked, phones were cut off, gas was scarce, and cash was unavailable. There was no way to get the church leadership together, so he made a simple plan to: 1. give pastoral care to the church members; 2. care for the surrounding community; and 3. rebuild the church building so it could regain its role in the church’s mission. He explained that after the safety of his congregants was assured and community members who’d lost their homes were cared for, the Samuel Culpeper church building became a distribution center for food, clothing and other resources sent from the mainland US and from all over the world. You could hear in his voice how close he feels to his church members who came together to help each other, their extended families, and the entire community in Maria’s wake. They are still working and now we are working with them.
Before hearing from Pastor Eric, some of us were feeling a little frustrated that we are nearing the end of the tasks the church is ready to tackle and really want to “accomplish” as much as possible while here. Pastor Eric’s story put these thoughts into perspective. It is not about us and what we do to the physical structure of the church while here in this single week. The church is not the building. While renovating and repairing the building is important to the church’s goals, the community is what they are building. Today we joined with the church leadership for lunch and worked alongside church members. We are humbled to play a small role in the sanctuary reconstruction and very much more grateful to be considered part of the Samuel Culpeper community.
So, as we nestle into our mosquito nets, we are feeling very bonded as a team, welcomed by our Puerto Rican friends, and ready for what tomorrow may bring. It is not about us; but rather, it is about generosity of self and of spirit. So tomorrow we will try to be generous, looking only for the reward of knowing that by serving and learning here as part of this community, we are doing your will.