As most of us prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones or by serving in a Food Kitchen, I’ve been reflecting on the “harvest”. What are we harvesting? Are we harvesting seeds of kindness, of compassion, of justice? Are we harvesting wholeness, diversity, goodness? It’s easy to get lost as people harvest seeds of hatred, racism, selfishness and unkindness. But each of us, as a member of the human community, is called to harvest for good and for all.

I know there is a lot of sadness these days, and I also know there is a lot of hope. However, I received a message over the weekend that another one of our Nica sponsored children is in critical condition- with some form of blood cancer as it was described to me.

I will be notifying the sponsor. The little girl is in 5th grade and once again, this news is painful and deeply sad.

This is the 3rd situation regarding one of our sponsored children in the past few months. I am saddened by the fact that we are unable to travel to Nica at this time and these families have so much on their plates as it is, without adding terminal illnesses of their children. I was told that the Mission is truly missed. I sincerely believe that our most important ministry is to plant the seeds of hope and to share that harvest with those in greatest need. We’ve been doing that for 20 years in the Mission.

As I reflect on the harvest, my dream is that I wish Nica had a HUGE DRIVE IN MOVIE SCREEN (remember those?) and that the local communities could gather and we could all zoom in with them and let them know they are not forgotten!! On some levels, it’s easier to share the harvest of HOPE when disasters occur in our own country because we can more readily access, share and serve. Yet, even in these local and national disasters, I sometimes read how folks think everyone has forgotten them, (even though we haven’t). Perhaps it’s just that there are many disasters these days and our care and concern has to be stretched a bit more, a bit farther…..

Sometimes I wonder if folks like our staff in Nicaragua also wonder if we will forget?! It must be really wearisome and worrisome to live in such situations and not know the peace and assurance that all will be well…eventually.

I remember an encounter from one of our very first Mission trips which I’d like to share with you. We were visiting the country’s cancer center for children, the only one in the entire country one, like all hospitals there, that was very poor. Children traveled on horse or on foot or on a oxen cart or by hitchhiking on the back of trucks to the center, which was often 3-5 days.

We showed up, sharing stickers, and sharing HOPE, only to hear the devastating statistics of how many of these children would likely live and thrive if they had access like here in the US. However, most of these children would die due to delayed diagnosis, or lack of medical care or inability to travel, etc. We then promised to go back the next day to paint some of the rooms. Staff there nodded and we left.

Well, the next day, when we returned with volunteers, paint, buckets, and medical supplies, the staff cried. When I asked why they were crying, we were told that “everyone promises to come back, but they don’t come back.” YOU DID!

Yes, indeed, we did go back and help repair and renovate and share HOPE, so let us never underestimate how our presence, our deeds and our words carry HOPE…never let us forget! These are the seeds which we must plant and which we must harvest. A harvest of HOPE is within all of our grasps and it is that harvest that I hope you are blessed with during this season of Thanksgiving.

I recently read these words written by Bruce Epperly: “The German mystic Meister Eckhart is reputed to have said that if the only prayer you make is “thank you,” that will suffice. Thanksgiving is the virtue of interdependence, the recognition that our achievements are not fully our own, but emerge from a network of relationships that sustain and shape us, giving us the materials from which we create our experiences moment by moment.”

And thus, a harvest of HOPE, a harvest of justice, a harvest of compassion, that is the harvest we reap.

Thank you for helping the Mission of Hope share a harvest of blessing and of HOPE where we can, when we can. Indeed, “if the only prayer” I make is a thank you, hopefully that will suffice. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US IN A HARVEST OF HOPE!

Sr. Debbie Blow