The students and I spent our first full day in New York City at Kateri Residence which is a home for elderly adults. I had forgotten how much fun it is to visit older people, to hear their stories and to talk with them about our lives as well.
Some highlights for me included:
Meeting an African American female non-denominational minister named Bernadette (“Bernadette, like the movie Song of Bernadette.” she said) Cosby. She’s dying. But her spirit is soaring. She runs a pretty tame non-threatening bible study for the residents and does a Teddy Bear Ministry. She makes bears with crosses on them!
We became fast friends and I sat with her over lunch talking shop. She talked about how God touched her life and how she’s ready to meet God now! “Looking forward to death?! What a novel concept.” I noted.
She replied, “Well, you have the eyes of faith! I can see that and can see that you have given that to these students! So you know how this story ends and Baby, your end is not going to be any different from mine.”
That was inspiring enough for me to be able to “gift her my cross.” The students get these cross necklaces that they wear and they are asked to give it away to someone that they see Christ in. Some do this pretty quickly and others wait the week out thinking that they’ll be tons of different people that they will meet. I thought, “What are the odds that I’ll meet another minister?”
Secondly, here was a woman who was so accepting and open to us despite the differences in our faiths. She noted my openness to her faith as well to which I replied with a quote from my college friend, Jane,
“Well there are no denominations in heaven!”
She laughed, said “Lord, have mercy!” in that way that only an African American woman can say it and I placed my cross around her neck. Amazingly, she knew they were made in El Salvador!
I also have a date for the Oscars. I met a second woman who noted that she had put her new dress on for the Oscars and I then offered to be her date for the evening. She asked if I had a tux because you need a tux for the Oscars. So now the students are trying to find a way to get me a tux and return to the home to watch the Oscars with her. If it wasn’t so expensive I think they’d have made me do it.
I was also pretty proud to be the minister for these students. They were so unafraid to walk up to the seniors and just start talking. It allowed me to begin to open my own heart a bit more and begin to reach out and comfort some of the seniors who were crying or uncomfortable.
Sometimes I wonder who is really ministering to who?
Videos to upload later.