To Tell the Tale of God’s Love Down the Ages (3)

During my days with the Children of Mary , besides giving interior service to the church, there were also exciting activities and charitable work to the parishioners. I was baptized in the 60s, those days, Hong Kong had accommodated many immigrants from Mainland China. These new comers mainly belonged to the labourers’ class, leading a simple, poor life. St. Lawrence Church was situated next to Lee Cheng Uk Resettlement Area where many of these labourers were housed. The needs of the parishioners living there were to have enough food and clothing to keep themselves warm. The parish, besides organizing activities for evangelization, also started to take care of the material needs of the parishioners. Our parish priest looked for people with good will who were happy to give alms to those in need. Our benefactors continuously sent in bags of flour, tins of cooking oil and huge parcels of clothing. Donated material were received by the members of the Social Welfare Association of the parish, the work of distribution fell onto the shoulders of the members of the Children of Mary, young people with strength, enthusiasm and patience.

At first, we thought it was easy to distribute material goods, later we found out the preparation work needed to be done in a systematic way. We also needed cooperation, then the process would go smoothly and our mission could be accomplished. Let me take the example of distributing old clothes: when the donated materials came, the first step was to sort them out. The clothes were separated by categories to suit men, women or children, for summer or winter, also by their sizes. Suddenly we found ourselves looked like preparing to open a dress boutique.

The day before the distribution, we needed to put the clothes in the hall in good order, put up railings for lining up, the service committee had a long meeting to organize every step. When the time came, we were quite nervous, it was the first time we distribute material goods to the parishioners. The parish priest came to see to the preparation as well as to give us encouragement. The time was approaching with the long queue waiting at the entrance of the hall, everybody was bringing a big bag for the clothes, some parishioners even came with the whole family! When the gate was opened, the long queue coiled into the hall, the most excited ones were the children, upon receiving the clothes, they immediately put them on, the elder ones quickly followed. The pavement outside the hall became the dressing room, exchanges went on when they found the dresses not suiting or not to their liking. The area was full of laughter and warmth. When we saw the smiles on their faces, we forgot all our fatigue, our hearts were full of gratitude; being able to serve the brothers and sisters in need brought us a sense of mission and satisfaction.

What came next is the distribution of flour. At first we did not know how to go about it. After meetings and serious discussions, we came to consensus to take family as a unit and give out the amount of flour by the number of the family members, each family needed to bring a bag on their own. To distribute flour was far more difficult than clothes: one of us need to keep the bag open, and let the other pour the flour into it. You may say, that is very easy, not exactly true, when the bag was not well opened, the flour would drop to the floor, when we poured the flour too fast, the powder would fly and we could not open our eyes…Trying makes perfect, after several trials, we got the technique and could go fast, able to handle bags of different sizes, to ease out complaints and to answer all sorts of questions, including how to make delicacies with flour!

When we were busy with the distribution, there was trading business going on outside the church. People from the nearby area heard about what was going on in the church and came to buy flour from the parishioners with a low prize. We were not happy about that, but after reflection and sharing our feelings, we came to realize that not every family had the time or knew how to make use of the flour. If they could get some money for their livelihood by selling what they got, the aim of helping them had been accomplished.

After the big work, we needed to gather what had been left and also to clean the place. Despite of our fatigue, we laughed heartily when we looked at each other; then we rushed to the toilet to see our new look . Our hair, even eyes brows became white with the flour, we all looked old, we saw ourselves at old age before time! After a good laugh, we cleaned ourselves and became young and energetic again. Through giving service, we experienced the joy in helping our brothers and sisters in need, it also strengthened the bond and cooperation among us. We learned to see things from different angles. The most important thing was that we had encountered God in our daily life, to feel his presence and loving care in what happens in life. We were able to be in touch with a God who loves us with ever unconditional love. That is the reason for us to be happy, happiness of being loved, which will fill our days with gratitude and joy! (To be continued)

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