Monday, October 25, 2010

Ministry Around Us

I'm seeing something interesting happening over the last year or two. Now that life inside our home is more stable and peaceful (and wonderful!), new things are happening outside.

I live here, minister to over there, and my home church is back there. Yeah, confusing. So while we live here, most of our ministry is not happening here. Yet we live here. Daily rubbing shoulders with and involved in the lives of people here. Of course, our lives would mostly consist of church, school (which is highly multicultural!), and the office. The only exception is my work. It is a very part-time thing. I'm not qualified enough according the the rules of this country to work as a nurse, and honestly not sure I want the headache, so I simply work as what you would call an aide. I only work a few shifts a month, but enough to keep my foot in the door and do something. Besides that, I love old people.

The last new months, I've been noticing that there have been doors opening for quiet ministry here - where we are. Not a full-time job. Just being friends with, being involved in the lives I come in contact with. Dealing with abortion, abusive marriages, tired moms, friendly neighbors... I'm enjoying it... I guess... I mean, I enjoy being able to minister and comfort those around me, yet my heart breaks with their burdens, too.

The village I work in is mostly Catholic. Interesting to me, an American, because we don't naturally think of a village being anything. People are... but a village? Yet, it should be obvious. Tiny village of only a few houses and a huge steeple of a church towering over the village. The nun's home is beside the church, the school is right across the street, and the old people's home is sandwiched between the school and the graveyard. (I always thought that a bit odd - the view from the old people's living room window is the graveyard!) We've had a few real believers come in to the home, but most of our people would be Catholic or nothing. We've had a high number of nuns, priests, and now a um.. a... a monk? He is not a priest, yet not a nun (obviously!) He's a "brother".

But as I have cared for the nuns, priests, and brothers with Alzheimer's, questions go through my head.... the nun who always wanted to shut the door and make sure it was "just us girls" when she had a bath... once told me, "I don't like it when Father so and so comes in our room at night." .... "I told him no, but..." and she mumbles... Last night I had the "brother" say something very odd, too, in the shower room. Is it only Alzheimer's or has more been going on in that impressive stone building than we think?

I don't know. I only attempt to deal with the nightmares of Alzheimer's patients who have lost the ability to sort out the difference between the past and the present. Abuse, war, trauma, death... all these experiences tumble together in their minds and emotions while their coping strategies fail.

And in between that, I listen to the lives of my coworkers. Then I come home exhausted - at times not because of the work, but because of helping carry some burdens.

Then I come home, back home. I won't work for a few weeks again, and my mind switches to the needs of over there... to a different work. Yet the needs of a hurting world are so much the same. Different causes, same heartache... same emptiness seeking an answer.

No comments: