Five of us chose to volunteer at Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata today. What an amazing place! In the midst of this dirty, crowded, noisy, impoverished city is this peaceful oasis of caring and compassion. Talk about a light shining in the darkness -- this is it. It's a clean, well organized place with a spirit of love permeating throughout.
Jenny went to the building housing the dying and destitute while Tania, Coleen, Petra and I decided that might be a little too intense for us so we asked to be assigned to Shishu Bhavan, working with children that suffer from a variety of handicaps (autism, blindness, physical deformation, and more). We spent four hours in this building -- playing with the children, feeding them, doing laundry, helping with therapy, and changing "nappies."
People from all over the world come to volunteer at Missionaries of Charity. We personally met volunteers from Australia, Germany, Japan, Italy, and the USA. Elizabeth, a retired music teacher from Germany, began a two-months in Kolkata, two-months in Germany plan of volunteering about a year ago. She loves it! Short term, long term or just one of the four hour shifts available on Saturday or Sunday -- Missionaries of Charity welcomes all volunteers. And it was a privilege to help even if it was for just a few hours. God's love shines here -- in gentle touches, kind words, sweet smiles, and an atmosphere of caring "for the least of these." To be even a tiny part of it was a great experience.
The Mother House, where Mother Teresa lived and is entombed is a short walk from Shishu Bhavan. Besides seeing her tomb, we spent time in the Exhibition Room where her life is documented with many original writings and documents from Mother Teresa herself. In them you can see that her love for the poor and discarded was about as close as any human can get to loving as Jesus' loves.
At Mother Teresa's death in 1997 there were 3,842 sisters serving in 594 houses in 120 countries. One person really can change the world.