Life’s Lessons


About being different

I receive a catalogue from Southwest Indian Foundation. The products are beyond my purchase price but I find it interesting to read because of the tidbits of information tucked in among the products. This acquaints the reader with both the highlights and the problems of the Native American population, historically and currently.

One of the best kept secrets of World War II was the use of the Navajo Code Talkers. They provided an invaluable contribution by using the Navajo language as a secret code which proved indecipherable.

Their special mission was classified “top secret” for over 23 years. Finally, in 2001, President Bush awarded the original Navajo Code Talkers the Congressional Gold Medal for their work in relaying messages in the native Navaho tongue. The Japanese were totally baffled, and thus thousands of lives were saved.

Also through this catalog, I learned more about a ministry where Kelly and I volunteer every week. About four years ago, the activities director for Sacred Heart Home in Oregon, Ohio, asked us to come and be in ministry to their population. Since we had tried nursing home work previously, and found it was not a good fit for us, I declined.

About six months later, she asked again. Again I declined. But this time, she offered, “Just come and walk through before you decide. We’re different.” Well, I could do that at least.

Yes, it is different – more residential without the sights, sounds, and scents of most nursing homes I’ve visited. As is often said, the rest is history. We’ve been volunteering there for about three years.

The home is operated by Little Sisters of the Poor, a worldwide Catholic organization first established in France in 1839. In speaking of the ministry of the organization, the catalogue states, “These dedicated Sisters create a cheerful atmosphere of love and care and dignity – a true home for these aging men and women.”

This is speaking of the Native American population of our country’s southwest, but the same quote can be said of the home in Oregon, Ohio, as well. The activities director said to me in the beginning, “We are in ministry to the elderly poor.” The residents themselves readily say of their care, “I don’t have money, but they take good care of me here.”

And isn’t that what we all hope for? Good care in our past-the-prime years. Oh, we all want to be at home, but when that is not an option, then good care from people who are truly in ministry rather than just working a job is an excellent alternative.

Just a side note here: As I struggled to know how to describe us rather than using the well-worn term “seniors”, I found it refreshing when we were in Ecuador to note they do not call us seniors but say we are of the third age! The third age gets a discount on various fees – unfortunately not on groceries, though. The cost of living is high there.

Sometimes, I think when we are among unchurched people, they must listen to some of our conversation like the Japanese listened to messages in the Navajo tongue – with a total lack of understanding. Maybe that’s a major reason they are not interested in becoming Christians. However, there is a way to witness to these friends so they do understand.

Live a life that depicts the love of God – His love for each of us. His love that sent His very own son to the cross to pay for our salvation. Sooner or later they may ask, “Hey! What makes you different?” Then you can verbalize your faith in Jesus Christ.

About being different