Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Do All The Good You Can

This is Reina, the woman you can read about in this blog.

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.
-       John Wesley (1703–1791)
Reina's house...home to her for more than fifty years.
I have been thinking about goodness a lot these days. A recent experience brought home to me the goodness that resides in the hearts of so many “ordinary” people. Indeed, I suspect that there is no such thing as “ordinary” people.
Reina inside of her former home.
Reina is a woman about eighty years old (so I learn from seventy-one-year-old Meche, who remembers Reina taking care of her as a young girl). She is a deaf-mute (all of her life, says Meche) and has lived for at least fifty years alone in the “house” depicted in the two photos above. At some time in her life, Reina must have broken a hip, because she has only one leg that has strength; when she walks with a stick, she drags her other leg behind her.
Reina walking back to her house from a bath in the river.
I learned from a friend that a young neighbour of Reina, Cecilia, got a job as a nurse and had built an adobe-brick house for herself. There were extra bricks, so Cecilia asked the workers to bring the bricks to where Reina lived and to build a small adobe house for Reina. The workers used the same roof from the older house for the new residence.
This is Cecilia with me; she used her own money to pay the workers to build Reina's new house.
When I learned of Reina’s new house, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could get a bed for Reina!” I’ve seen her lowering herself (painfully, it seems) onto the straw mat on the floor that has been her bed for most of her life, and I’ve seen her struggle to get up from the floor to stand upright with her one good leg—it’s not an easy thing to do.
Reina sitting on her new chair in front of her new house.
I approached a friend in Tlapa, Max, who makes wooden beds, and I asked him if he would sell me a bed cheaply. When Max heard about Reina’s situation, he insisted on the bed being a gift from his family for Reina. He even threw in a little nightstand and a wooden chair.
Max with the bed he donated for Reina.
I approached another friend in Tlapa, Vicente, who sells furniture, and I asked him if he might sell me a mattress at a discounted price for Reina. When Vicente heard of Reina’s situation, he insisted on the mattress being a gift for Reina.
Vicente helped to load the mattress onto the Mission Mexico truck.
A godchild of mine, Araceli, who lives in another state, heard about Reina’s new bed, and she sent to me, as a gift from her family, a woolen blanket and a set of towels for Reina.
Araceli, her husband, and their two children donated towels and a warm blanket.
Two little girls who live near me, Valeria and Lizbeth, brought a set of bedsheets to me for Reina’s bed. This was an especially generous gift, because their father was murdered here in Tlapa about eight years ago, and life is not always easy for them and their mother.
Valeria and Lizbeth giving me bedsheets for Reina.
So, one day I drove about four hours to Reina’s house to deliver her new bed and accessories. The bed just managed to fit inside the house. Reina immediately tried it out; it was evident that it was much easier for her to sit or lie on the bed than on the floor.
Reina's first time in her new bed—and perhaps her first time ever in a real bed.
The next morning, I returned to Reina’s house to see how her first night with her new bed had worked out. No words could be shared between us, but her smile suggested to me that “going to bed” at night will now be a much easier experience for her.
Reina on the morning after her first full night sleeping in her new bed.
Such little “miracles” of generosity happen here in the mountains almost every day. It is undoubtedly one of the main reasons why I feel like one of the most blessed human beings I know on this earth. And it is one of the reasons why I am so grateful to the people in the Catholic Diocese of Calgary who support Mission Mexico and help transform—sometimes in little ways, sometime in huge ways—the lives of the impoverished indigenous peoples here. Thank you, Calgary.
A neighbour of mine offered to give shoes to Reina—but I suspect she has walked barefoot her whole life.