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We Could Have Just Sent Money

March 16, 2016
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We could have just sent money. Local construction crews could have built more with the money we could have sent. But what could have been sent could not have wept with the broken, sweat with the working, held hands with the prayerful, or laughed with the joyful. What could have been sent could not have cured because it could not care. And without joining the community of Puerto Viejo in their struggle, the money that could have been sent would have perpetuated a divided world of the haves and have-nots.

We were invited to enter into the simplicity of their joy, the consistency of their faith, and the complexity of their pain. We accepted the challenge to realize our own brokenness and use it to surrender ourselves to whatever struggles God revealed. Knowing that the needs of Puerto Viejo would call us beyond comfort into dirt, sweat and vulnerability, we packed work gloves and first aid kits. We went so that by walking together in darkness we might find the light.

Of course the local construction crew was adept in ways our desk jobs have weakened us. Where we struggled to haul wheelbarrows of concrete mix, they threw 100 pound bags over one shoulder with humbling nonchalance but never with judgment. When kids on our team wielded paintbrushes, the crew watched with hesitation but with even more patience. When we chopped vegetables the American way, they showed us how to do it better instead of doing it for us. We worked differently, but we worked in tandem, learning from each other in ways that money alone cannot teach.

The work seemed endless, though not without many moments of idleness. For a high achieving culture of “do-ers,” this challenged us to sit in vulnerability; to hold a lonely boy and sing to him, to look into the eyes of a perfect stranger and smile when language failed us, and to embrace the pastor whose mother is dying. Money cannot do these things, because money alone cannot minister.

By the week’s end, we held each other in a prayerful goodbye, weeping tears of joy for the fellowship shared, tears of sorrow for the pains that can’t be cured, and tears of gratefulness for the blessings given and received. Although our needs look different than those of the Puerto Viejo community, the people we came to serve ministered to us with their hospitality, patience, and love just as much, if not more, than we to them.

Money alone cannot minister. People minister. We could have just sent money, but that is not partnership. To be in partnership requires unity, built by working, praying and growing together. That is why we went, and that is why we will go again. God is present in the community that we are building, and although our efforts never guarantee a cure, we can always be a part of the healing.

We do not need passports or PhDs in “caring” to be present with our fellow man. It simply requires that we see a need and stretch beyond comfort into vulnerability, so that together in our brokenness we might heal and be healed. When we are fortunate to bring money into the healing of others, it is never without care. For without care, there is no cure.

To hear more about the experience from those who have participated in this mission, you are invited to a taco lunch following the Celtic Mass, April 17th at 12:00 p.m. More information to follow.

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