Yesterday was our final day of service at Mother Teresa’s homes. In just a few hours, we will begin the long journey back to Texas. Our students have experienced so much as they have compassionately served the least of these at Prem Dan and Shanti Dan. Among the lessons they have learned is the importance of closing the distance that separates us from those who are hurting and in great pain. They have learned that being the hands and feet of Jesus ultimately means drawing near to others, taking a personal interest in them, noticing the color of their eyes, and serving them without expecting anything in return. They have learned how fragile life can be and how much joy a smile and a touch can bring to those who have lived a lifetime in the shadows and filth of Kolkata’s streets. They have also learned that one person who is willing to serve others can make a difference.
On our final morning, we joined the other volunteers from around the world for breakfast at Mother’s House, the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity. I always enjoy this opportunity to meet others who have come here to serve. I also enjoy listening to their stories about why they came to serve. Yesterday morning, an Italian man approached me and asked me if I remembered him. “My friend and I met you at Kalighat (Mother Teresa’s home for the dying) in 2009,” he reminded me. How could I forget. As I reflected on that trip, I wrote the following on my blog on January 30, 2009:
The Italian volunteers were my favorites. I looked forward to doing laundry with them each morning. They lifted our spirits by singing at the top of their lungs. Mother Teresa said, “I very often tell the Sisters to approach the poor with joy, knowing that they have plenty of reasons to be sad. They don’t need us to confirm their sadness for them.” The Italian volunteers filled the air with joy.
My Italian friend still radiated the joy that had so impressed me in 2009. I was so happy to know that he had returned to serve. This time, we exchanged contact information.
After all of the volunteers left for their respective assignments, I stayed behind to chat with Sister Margaret and Sister Mercy Marie. Because I was scheduled to speak at International Justice Mission later in the morning, I was unable to return to Prem Dan yesterday and was therefore able to stay a little longer at Mother’s House. These two Missionaries of Charity who have become good friends thanked me for returning to serve with our students. They also gave me a tiny piece of one of Mother Teresa’s saris as a token of their appreciation — a gesture of kindness that I will always remember.
Mother Teresa was not a complicated person. She just fell in love with Jesus and gave her life without reservation to serve Him. And, by so doing, she unwittingly captured the attention of the world. I think that Mother Teresa’s ABCs (something that the Missionaries of Charity distribute to volunteers) sums up much of what made her such a beautiful person. Each of us should certainly make it our aim to learn Mother Teresa’s ABCs.
Always have the courage to say sorry.
Be kind, be compassionate.
Control your judgments.
Don’t let yourself get discouraged.
Every minute is precious — don’t waste your time.
Find out what is nice in each other.
Give until it hurts.
Have deep respect for each other.
If you really want to love God, love one another.
Just do small things with great love.
Keep your heart clean.
Learn to pray, love to pray, and pray often.
Make time for each other in your family.
Never tell lies.
Only believe — you are precious to God.
Put love in whatever you do.
Quite a lot of people have forgotten what love is, so begin to give the joy of loving.
Refrain from prejudice.
Smile at each other.
Take the trouble to listen.
Use your talents for the glory of God.
Very often, we look but we don’t see. Let us look and see.
When humiliation comes, accept it and offer it.
eXcuse rather than accuse.
You must learn to forgive.
Zeal is a second name for love. Do not lose that zeal!