“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” -Matthew 18:20
Everyday, we wake up early, go to 6 am Mass at the Motherhouse, have breakfast with the other volunteers and leave for our sites at 8 am, and the one other thing that remains constant in this routine is the volunteers we are blessed to encounter along the way. Although many have come and go during our time here, it is the daily interactions with the other volunteers that has been an unexpected grace for me. The volunteers come from all around the world, at different stages of their faith, and by the grace of God, the Lord has brought us together in the footsteps of Mother Teresa. It is from these volunteers that I have received and learned so much.
Two men that have more or less been a part of our group this mission trip are Sidham and Sam. Sidham is a Sri Lankan college student living in Australia who is in love with his faith and is eager to abandon himself to the mission of Christ. Sam is an Australian college student that is searching for what he wants to make of his life and his faith. I have grown close to both through many a conversation on the crowded buses and multiple adventures out into the streets of Calcutta. There are so many stories I wish I could share, but I would like to focus on one in particular. A very sad part about the volunteers is how few college age men volunteer here. The second day we were here, Sidham told me how happy he was that we were here with him because he was really hungering for some solid brotherhood. He said that it was difficult being there as one of only college aged guy. He desired to bond with some other guys his age, talk about the faith and be supported in struggle, and just in the one day we were together he was thankful for how awesome it was to have that brotherhood. He also said it was good we were there for Sam who really needed some more good solid guys to be around to help him in his search for clarity.
Fast forward through a myriad of great memories with them to today, and we were saying goodbye to Sam. It was really tough for all of us in the Kalighat group because of the bond we had made with our brother. We had traveled together, served together, eaten together and grown together. I cannot even begin to fathom how tough it will be to leave all the other volunteers, the sisters and the patients behind for the last time next Tuesday. It is these bonds we have made with the other volunteers that has made me realize the beauty of the community and brotherhood I have in my life. Guys like Sidham and Sam had never really experienced good authentic, manly community with guys of their age like I have been blessed to at SJV. When I am with other Catholic guys gathering in the name of Christ, I am able to grow into who the Lord made me to be and serve the dying and destitute to the best of my ability knowing my brothers will pick me up and teach me when, and I mean when, I fail (this is especially true in a group like this year’s SJV India group where they are all older than me, more experienced than me and have so much to teach me).
I am so thankful for my relationships with Sidham and Sam. I am thankful for my relationships with the SJV guys here and at home. I am thankful for all those relationships I have that bring me into the presence of Christ and teach me to be a better man (looking especially at you Mom and Dad). I am thankful for these because these are the relationships that bring me into communion with Christ. Mother Teresa’s first vision that gave her her mission to the poor was of the dying Christ asking her to bring poor to him because He desires to love them. Mother Teresa was a woman of communion who drew others into Christ by the relationships she forged with them through love and service. I want to be a man of communion in my relationships as well. I am thankful for the conversations I have had with the other volunteers and I am thankful they have drawn me toward Christ. I pray the Lord may teach me to do the same for others.
Please continue to pray for us as we near the end of our mission. Know that we pray for you and your intentions constantly.