I am in Pharr Texas, at St George the Great Martyr parish, attending in their 5th annual Winter retreat. I plan to come back many times. There have been many moving things in my time here, and although I am on a slow connection, I wanted to at least share a couple stories with you in the next two posts. If God allows, I will tell you much about my time here in more future posts. I have much to say to my flock about things we should do based on the good example of Father Antonio, Matushka Elizabeth and the parish of St George.
The Coke lady and the ice. Stories from the International Winter Youth/Young Adult Service Retreat, Pharr, Texas
The Coke Lady and the ice.
Reader Stephen spoke on opening night. He and his wife were formerly Protestant missionaries in South America, and especially Guatemala. He told of a trip to a little town in Guatemala with a group of youth missionaries, which started in a Southern US state, in a van without air conditioning. One disaster after another occurred – car breakdowns, tire blowouts, and oppressive heat and lack of sleep, food and hygiene. When they arrived in Guatemala, they had been up over 24 hours, and were exhausted in every way a person can measure.
They got out of the van and were wondering what to do next, and as he told it, looked “pitiful”. An old Guatemalan woman was selling cokes from a cooler beside the road. She looked at them for a long time, and then opened her cooler and chipped off a chunk of ice (the ice was a large chunk), and gave it to Steven, so they could refresh themselves with the ice on their wrists and necks and face.
I was so moved by this story that I used it as the main point in a homily I was asked to give later in the retreat. I asked the young people, and I ask you now – WHY did the women do this? Correct, but superficial answers are things like “She noticed their suffering”, or “She saw that they were hot”, or “She took pity on them”. If this is your first answer, I will be like a three year old and again ask WHY? Why did she notice, and take pity on them? What is the root reason?
It is related to the opposite of the disposition of the rich man who had a bountiful harvest. This is important stuff. This woman, most likely a Roman Catholic, and incredibly poor, had something that we need to have if we are going to be saved. The Rich man did not have it. What is it?