Last month our team met about the dire need to provide a meal to our students. We had noticed lethargy instead of energy, an inability to focus or concentrate, and even our twelve year olds couldn’t be motivated to remove their thumbs from their mouths--they sucked them all day long. I thought it was a bad habit, but then Greici explained it was anxiety and a self soothing technique for a child who is desperately hungry. She began to gather information and investigate the needs of the families we serve and even as a native to the barrio she was alarmed and determined for New Hope to find a way to intervene. As she peaded, I reasoned-- trying to explain the tight budget and how we were struggling to keep up with the needs of those in the safe house but then I remembered the lesson I had learned years before in the doctor’s office.
On my first trip to the pediatrician in the DR, in true American form I came prepared for our long wait with toys and a snack. I would pull them out only as needed, careful not to dull their effect or be left with a whinny child and nothing in the bag. As we waited I noticed other mothers coming in, greeting every person in the room with a kiss and then finding a seat with their children. Note to self: greet everyone as you walk into public rooms. When the first mother took out her precious, calming, patience nurturing snack I wondered if I would be able to get my child to hold out any longer. But to my surprise she opened her cracker and walked around the room offering everyone a serving and was left with only one for her own child. While I thought this mother was so sweet, I had no real intension of sharing my carefully packed bag of goodies with the whole waiting room. Then about 30 minutes later the second mother followed in the same ritual and this time I was stuck by her children’s response; not a single one whining, “That’s mine!” Note to self: you have a long way to go when it comes to loving your neighbor and teaching your children to share.
In that meeting about a month ago, I decided to embrace one of the many strengths of my Dominican sisters--their sincere belief that “what is mine is yours” and we scheduled a parent meeting.
We began with the identification of the problem where Greici shared personal stories about treking off to school with nothing more than bitter tea in her belly. All were able to relate and acknowledged that their girls were not eating regularly. Then we decided to lead by example—Safe house girls would share their breakfast however big or small with all who came to study in the morning. Our six eggs would be split four ways if necessary.
Finally we announced that any items or pesos brought for snack would serve as an offering to the group. EVERYTHING would be shared, even the smallest donation. The group responded with quiet knods and I sensed their agreement.
One month later I am thrilled to report that while our food budget has not grown, our girls have eaten breakfast and shared a snack every day. I am so proud of our girls and their mothers and their willingness to share out of their need—five pesos, a package of cookies, a mango from their tree. This is the body of Christ in action, the kingdom growing in our midst.
The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn't even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, "That's mine; you can't have it." They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them. So it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person's need. Acts 4:32-35 (message)