Friday, July 24, 2009

Week Three Redux

Two years ago, I posted briefly about Week 3. It remains one of those classic unrepeatable Trinita experiences, except not in a good way. So, it's only fair to post that we have been having a great week.

Most of the families this week are grandparents bringing their grandkids, infants included. I have been completely charmed by Ricky and his endless patience and nurturing of his baby granddaughter and toddler grandson, both in diapers. The adults are all very at home here and easy to hang with. The kids are "energetic" and we've had to confiscate a few bats, but it's nothing we haven't seen before. The air is not crackling with tension. It's just plain fun going on wherever I look.

Except maybe when I look at a few of our local teen volunteers this week. I give them credit for showing up promptly every day and doing whatever we ask them to do. But if ever I saw someone who did not want to be here (which does not happen often) it would be them. It is a bit jarring to realize not everyone gets the spirit of this place. It's not something we see very much here, because even when a teen is here to fulfill service hours for school, he or she has still chosen to serve at Trinita from a list of many options.

But once in awhile, we get obedient teens who have come for other reasons than the desire to serve. And they don't have fun. What a shame! But there is nothing I can do about it. I did try. But you can't make someone relax and enjoy the moment, I guess.

So, tomorrow our friends from Baltimore will board the bus and return home, and I am sure there will be tears shed at the big goodbye. Maybe even a few from me. This has been a fun week, and I have thoroughly enjoyed celebrating life with our Week Three families.

Friday, July 17, 2009


This is Week Two. We are doing a lot bilingually. We were finally able to open the pool on Wednesday. I was finally able to take a day off.

Peer group time, our first activity after breakfast, has required more of my attention than usual. We have only one baby for babysitting! But we have about 6 local teen volunteers. How to keep them engaged in the mission, that's been my challenge for that hour. We put four of them in the other peer groups as helpers, but I have had two very capable young volunteers each morning, asking how they can help. Yesterday, joking about it with a volunteer, I said, "They need to bring more babies next year!" Then we could just send all our teens to the lodge to help with babysitting, problem solved.

My day off was lovely, but I did keep noticing the time and wondering how things were going here. Once I got in the car for the two hour drive back to Trinita, my brain went full gear back into program mode. I realized that despite the fact that there are plenty of folks here who can handle whatever might come up, I still felt like... a mother who has left her child with a babysitter for the first time.

Really? Is this what that feels like? I think it is at least in that ballpark. I know Trinita is in good shape, in good health. I also know that the staff can carry on without me--they have before! Yet, I need to be there. I need to make sure all is well. Perhaps I am being overly-responsible. Or perhaps this is just the natural result of generativity. My very self is invested in this mission and especially in the summer program. It is my baby!

But like real babies, it takes more than one person to make one! We together are raising this child. A lot of people feel personally invested, or we wouldn't be able to pull this off. In 1984, as I scrubbed the men's showers in a spirit of utter contentment, I recognized this truth: you can't pay people to do what we are doing. If they were doing this for the money, it would change everything. You have to want to scrub the showers. You have to want to be a part of this mission and make it happen. Money can't buy a missionary spirit.

Like a mother raises her child for love and not because it pays well, we all need to find something that we feel that invested in, something we do out of love and not to pay bills. I know I am so very blessed to have that gift, the gift of generativity, as a Missionary Servant. And now, excuse me, peer group is over and I have to go scrub the showers. Or something.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

White Christmas

Week One. We started the week with: No Pool. No Cook. A crew of novice volunteers. Happy New Year!

We've been doing fine, actually. But not without some regular doses of drama. We had a camera crew from the Archdiocese here all yesterday morning. As they were filming the final closing remarks, a huge verbal altercation complete with naughty words erupted from Cabin Two. Uh-oh. I spent the next two hours in negotiations and private chats with various individuals. We seem to have got at least a successful cease-fire agreement in place.

As soon as I had sealed the last peace treaty, it was time for pool. No, wait. The pool is out of order. The pool company has come several times and still can't fix it. So I went from intense negotiations to a showing of Shrek in the Meeting Room.

Unfortunately, we showed Aladdin yesterday for the same reason. They were not so interested this time. So after about a third of the kids wandered out, I left too, scrounged around in Arts and Crafts, and opened up a Face Painting business on the pavilion. Soon enough, I had a gang of kids and volunteers surrounding me so I turned it over to them. The day wore on. Every once in awhile I would try to remember what day of the week it was. Only Monday. If it's Thanksgiving, it must be Monday.

Tuesday. Today must be Christmas. We sang Joy to the World at Morning Circle. Siah has reverted to his old ways and would not go to peer group, so he chose to sit alone on the back porch instead. I directed some very helpful teen volunteers to do some mopping and weeding. Wow, they really did well, I must say! I ate part of my lunch. I made arrangements for the afternoon. The Big Plan: open the lodge for games, facepainting, and a showing of Peter Pan on a 9 inch TV.

But just as lunch clean-up ended, the heavens opened. Rain sluiced down. I took off my shoes and socks so I could escort folks to their cabins using a golf umbrella. I was therefore unprepared for the hail.

The hail! Just bits at first, then painful chunks, then a carpet of white stones in the grass. My feet went numb with cold! Just as well, since it hurt like walking on rocks.

I made it back to the front porch and we all stood in amazement, watching the rain and hail sheet down. Pat said, "It's a white Christmas!" And so, that is what we sang.