I have been working in the Community Living Services of the St. Joseph Social Service Welfare Foundation Center in Hsinchu (Taiwan) diocese for four years. The Center offers a multiple support system in the community living service for persons with intellectual disabilities and is in the center of a residential area. After class, most of the students (clients) go home by school bus; however, some have to stay in the Center. I will share about a female teacher whose daughter is one of the students in the Center.
She had been working as a teacher in the Center but hardly talked about her daughter who was born with physical challenges. One day, she told me that her husband had stage three lung cancer and would undergo chemotherapy. I told her that I will pray for her and her family, especially her husband who will need God’s mercy and love during this difficult time.
After a few weeks, her husband started his chemotherapy, but seemed not to be improving. Every time I saw her, she looked worried and sad. Normally, if a family member is taken ill, especially a very serious illness, it will affect the whole family – their life, relationships, work, etc. She is a Buddhist and I believe that all religions share the same concern for humanity. From a Christian viewpoint we call it unconditional love. For this reason, I made a promise to pray to God for her husband.
I pray for his strength of heart and peace of mind during the rest of his treatment. She doesn’t talk about her husband’s condition unless I ask her. She said that her husband refuses to eat and drink. He had lost weight dramatically and had been lying in bed most of the time. He might be longing to go back to a normal life in which he used to care for his family as a father and a husband.
Reflecting on my friends’ experience, I realized that I do have the ability to be patient toward someone. Columban missionaries have always responded with humility to the vulnerable and marginalized people in all our mission countries. My friend doesn’t eat meat and fish because of her religious faith. As for me, a TV documentary motivated me not to eat meat anymore.
We have different reasons for being a vegetarian, but we share a similar eating style as well as share various matters in life. We have different languages and a different family background, but we have a common commitment to the Center to make it a home for our students. Sometimes, I bring some Korean snacks and food to the Center to share with her. We developed a close friend relationship and we became comfortable with each other. She often makes traditional soup at dinner time to share with me. I love her cooking style because it reminds me of my mom’s cooking. We may be different, but we share similar thinking, wisdom, and experience in life. I left the Center because of the COVID restrictions, but our still friendship remains.