Love in action at Providence in the Desert
Love in action.
That is what I saw last week at Providence in the Desert in southern California.
I knew the ministry’s story before I went.
I knew Sister Carol Nolan began the ministry 13 years ago. I knew she reached out to some of the poorest people in the United States, immigrant field workers in the Coachella Valley of California. She had asked them what they needed. They needed to learn English, so she made it happen.
I knew that she and Sister Loretta Picucci and other volunteer and paid teachers travel the Valley bringing English language classes to people who want to learn. I knew the students came to classes often tired from a day in the fields. I knew they sometimes came with kids in tow as they worked to make a better life for their families.
I knew the story of this ministry of the Sisters of Providence going in, but I wasn’t prepared for the fullness of what Providence in the Desert is.
I saw two sisters pouring out their lives for others.
Providence in the Desert is about a lot more than teaching.
It’s about presence. It’s about caring. It’s about love and compassion.
It’s about calling a student during your down time in the middle of the day to quiz her on what she will need to know for her upcoming U.S. citizenship exam.
It’s about advocacy. It’s about being a voice for those not easily heard. It’s about working to create a more just and equitable world.
It’s about overcoming inhibitions in driving and navigating to travel to trailer parks and out of the way little towns (without GPS!) to bring language help to people without other resources.
It’s about living out the Gospel of Christ. It’s about caring for a neighbor that it would be easy to ignore. It’s about showing your love to every person you see.
It’s about leaving a much-earned doze in front of the TV at the end of a busy day to take a phone call. It’s about still offering your full, loving presence to the person on the other end of the phone.
It is about being Church. It is about bringing God’s presence to people struggling to improve their lives.
It’s about always giving, always loving, despite your own years, despite your own tiredness.
It’s about offering your life, your energy, because these people need someone, and right now that someone is you.
It’s a powerful thing to see – that love in action that is Providence in the Desert.