• December 8, 2010

“The widow with two coins is rejoicing” - Katie, volunteer in India.

Katie L., an American vol­un­teer from St. Louis, Missouri, just arrived at the Garden of Mercy, one of the two Heart’s Home vil­lages. She gives us her first impres­sions of her mis­sion in India:

“Several days ago I had the plea­sure of going to see one of our friends, Patti (Grand­mother) Rebecca. I was accom­­panied by David, a French vol­un­teer whose Tamil is a bit more advanced than mine, but not by much. Patti Rebecca lives in a small vil­lage called Tam­baran very close to the Garden in a little green con­crete hut. She has had bone cancer for 14 years, which mainly mani­fests itself very pain­­fully in her right leg.

When we arrived at Patti’s house she asked us to sit down, which we under­s­tood. Then she asked us if we ate, what we ate, etc. So far so good. Then she ram­bled off a para­­graph or so of Tamil, speaking excit­edly with her hands and raising her voice. I had no idea what she was saying. “Um, amma?” I ven­­tured, which means, “Um, yes?” Patti leaned over and laughed so hard I thought she would cry. So she just kept trying, kept asking David and I long excited ques­­tions and laughing when we didn’t know what she was saying. And it became a game for all three to try to see what we under­s­tood out of each other, all three laughing and joking when we couldn’t get it.

Sud­denly Albert and George arrived to spend some time with Patti as well. Though she was overly happy to see them she was embar­rassed because she did not know that they were coming and she had spent the last of her money on coffee for her­self, David, and me. She had nothing to offer them. Almost instantly I thought of the widow in the Gospels that puts the 2 coins in the offer­tory at the temple. And I was so touched.
Patti, who cannot express her­self in words to us, who has no idea why David and I per­­son­ally desire to be with her or to be in India, who has only a few rupees - she not only gives us a gift with the only money she has, but she really enjoys us, really takes us fully into her house, into her life and into her­self. I was impressed at the sac­ri­fice she made for us, but more blown away by the pure joy she took in making it. And I real­ized that the widow who leaves the temple is laughing. She is really enjoying life. She walks out of the temple with her arms wide open, because she will give every­thing to God and for this she knows pure joy.

As we left Tam­baran I sat qui­etly on the back of the scooter, thinking about how I came to India to treat the poor as if they were Jesus, to love them like Jesus. But the people here are treating me as Jesus. Father Thierry speaks about our mis­sion as The Kinder­garten of Love – in these places we have to learn every­thing again. We have to learn how to speak, we have to learn how and what to eat, which medicine to use, etc. And we learn how to love. These people become our teachers. I don’t know what Patti Rebecca is saying. And I clearly don’t know how she cooks or what medicine she puts on her leg. But she is my teacher. Because she loves me. Because she is my friend.”

Katie L.

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