I arrived at Kennett Prysbertian last night around eight o'clock in the evening. The dinner shift was just finishing up and the three families who were staying there for the week were relaxing in the rec room with their kids. Their English was minimal, and my Spanish was limited as well, but exchanges of smiles and laughs really took us a long way. My partner for the night and I played with the kids. One of the men was working and didn't end up getting home from work until well after midnight. Another had to leave for work at 5am. A baby had just been born a week before. One family was intergenerational--grandmother, daughter, and children. In the morning we got breakfast ready and the coffee made around 5am. We were able to chat with one of the men before he left for work--he had slept from 3am (when he got home from work) to 5am (for when he had to leave for work). His daughter was about a month old. "Life is hard sometimes. But also very good," he said with a shrug. He was hopeful about a potential house to rent near his work. We prayed with him, for his family, his job, for finding housing.
It was very humbling for me to spend time with these hardworking and humble migrant families. It was also a privilege. Serving the poor is such a huge part of the Christian life, and how often I neglect it. What is amazing is when you serve those in need--those who are hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked--you are serving Christ himself in the "distressing guise of the poor." Waiting on the God of the universe. I hope to serve with Family Promise again. They coordinators are great, people who care and are doing the work that often goes unseen. I did one night, but some of these men and women have been volunteering for decades. I have a lot to learn, and looking forward doing more.
Sometimes it can seem there are so many problems in the world, you are really powerless to do anything. But that's not true. As Mother Teresa said, "Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you."