October 3, 2014

Together as Brothers and Sisters We Go to Meet the Lord

Nota - Este artículo es disponible en español aquí.

Ten Episcopal women of Afro-Caribbean descent are moving quickly back and forth in the community room of the church of their ancestors. Today they’re smiling more than ever. The glowing faces of these mostly retired teachers project a certain spiritual rejoicing. 

For years this congregation has been wishing, talking, and above all praying to God for the moment when they could finally embrace not only the children, but also the mothers and fathers of the growing local Latino community—many of whose sons and daughters already attend an after school program at their church. In less than two months they have answered one of the community’s most urgent needs by launching a pilot program that will offer ESL classes to twenty Latino mothers while offering child care while they’re in class. 

You may wonder how this dream became a reality. 

First of all, we must point out their constant prayers to God asking Him to show them the way. For these lovely Episcopal women everything was granted in God’s time and within God’s dream for the congregation and the local community. Along with prayer they sought the necessary support needed to serve as a bridge between the cultures and thus, with all of their efforts to serve with love and in the best possible way, everything came to fruition: first with the arrival of the Latino/Hispanic missionary who was invited to meet the congregation. They not only shared their way to praise God with her, but also offered her the hospitality of a community lunch in which the congregation sought out and prepared Latin-American specialties, some well-known and easy to cook and others more complex, such as mole poblano, a labor intensive sauce which takes hours to make. Then came the dinners with the parents and extended families of the children from the after school program. Of course everybody loved getting together in this way. The desire to get to know each other was clear and it led to some truly inspirational moments. 

During the community lunch, the ten women offered to be trained to work with Latino communities and to explore methods of teaching English as a second language to adults. The future teachers were invited to read two novels written by Latin-American authors that described the life histories and experiences of Latinos who immigrated to the US for political reasons.

To me, as a diocesan missionary, it seems this community took a joint pilgrimage, as brothers and sisters and it now it has the power to mutually describe the treasures of each other’s languages and cultures. The church community has had a real desire to shake hands and joyfully and enthusiastically learn about what we Latinos have to offer, and I think ultimately both communities have learned what each and every person has to offer, thus completely opening themselves up to the transformative powers of the divine Spirit and the miracle of our capacity to relate to one another, becoming truly integrated on the path to encounter God. 

Seeing that members of my beloved Latino community are able to move forward and participate more fully in what this country has to offer fills my soul with great joy. It also gives me great joy to see other cultures learning about our community’s contributions while intimately understanding our ways of being and feeling. 

Thanks be to the Lord!