Suubi is the word for hope in Uganda. It is a word that can inspire, challenge or make us run in fear. I am choosing the first two and invite you to join me on little journey. I first met Moses in a Facebook Youth Ministry group. He was so excited about what God was doing in his country and felt called to do something for the youth and families in his community. He was so eager to learn about social justice - a new concept to him. We had so many conversations about service, justice, what the Catholic church has to say about human dignity, poverty, hunger and needs. I learned that his community was hit very hard by AIDS and HIV, leaving so many children sick and orphaned. The community was finding it very difficult to care for everyone....and many go without basic needs today. Moses challenged his youth group to build a home for a homeless family - and I was amazed at how this poor community and even poorer youth found a way to build a tiny brick home for this family. It was beautiful and of course empowering. The youth wanted something more to do...so Moses helped them feed the hungry in their community. They gave up their own breakfast one day to share it with the school children in need. I was overwhelmed by this beautiful act. There is no excess from which to give in this community - people are giving from their own food, own shelter, own clothing. It shook me to my core. I thought of all our YNIA teams - and their own fundraising efforts to come on a YNIA week. You all earn the money to give up a week to serve in the name of Jesus. It is radical. It is a paradox. It is our faith. We will soon be sharing with you a little project Moses and our YNIA team have come up with to bring breakfast to the children in Masaka, Uganda. We hope to have each YNIA team host a breakfast to raise money to help our friends grow maize. This maize will be breakfast for the children. You and I know we learn better, feel better and do better if we have full tummies.
It is National Migration Week in our church and our bishops have encouraged us to pray for peace, unity and hope for all those having to leave their homes aid countries to make a better life. Migration hits close to home for me. My husband came to the US to flee war in his own country and has made a life here that has always included a little homesickness, longing for family, friends, food, language and music from Iran.We have worked hard to keep traditions and have a sense of pride in Persian culture with our family. Really, the food is amazing! He now volunteers with World Relief and has had the privilege of helping to settle a new Afghani family this past few months. Ali and Soheila were brought to the U.S. after helping our military in Afghanistan - they couldn't stay - their lives were compromised by their support of our troops. Soheila was 8 1/2 months pregnant and would be delivering her little one far from family and home in a very different culture. Little John Iman was born a few weeks ago - healthy and beautiful with a hopeful future. They invited us for dinner on Christmas - so we went of course with gifts and food and looking forward to snuggling with the baby.Their little apartment is furnished with second-hand furniture and dishes, mismatched tables and lamps, but filled with warmth and welcome. Kind people have given them all they need for the baby and they are planning their future with excitement and purpose. The dinner was delightful - yummy food from old family recipes - laughter, stories, taking turns holding John and best of all, sharing faith. On our way home my husband said, " I have never stopped being grateful for the chance to live here - and for the freedom and peace we have." That's it my friends...peace, freedom and hope are gifts! Pray a prayer of thanksgiving tonight for all God has given us!
Every week on a summer mission trip is incredible. Each school or parish team comes with hopes, dreams and tons of energy and enthusiasm to change the world just a bit. This past summer we started a new site in Springfield Kentucky. It is a little burg a bit east of Louisville. A little town that cheers on the local high school foot ball team, knows when a neighbor is sick or in trouble and is about as proud as can be of their roots and heritage. Forward to the week YNIA was there for the first time. A little town, mostly Baptist, is turned upside down by a lot of Catholic teenagers from around the country. They weren't sure what to think - why were these teens here? Why do they need to work here? What are they trying to do?