Tuesday, August 8, 2017


I can't get the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines off my mind. I was somewhat aware of their situation during my first six trips, but it was during the recent seventh trip that it really hit me. Most of us here in the United States have it good compared to what people in poorer countries have to endure. In a way, we are spoiled.

The poverty is obvious, but it is what is behind the poverty that is harder to see. You have to be there for a while to really see and feel a little of what people have to put up with, and do without, in a typical day. Nothing seems convenient. Everything seems to be a struggle. Simple things are complicated. It's hot. It's noisy. It's congested. Getting where you need to go is a hassle. Finding some of the simplest things you need, if you can indeed find them at all, is time consuming. When you do get back home, you are simply exhausted from the heat, stress, traffic and frustration. 

Women who have to walk, carry packages and corral children while dodging cars and ditches are so vulnerable. It's a wonder that more people are not hit by cars in a days time. Old people lined up along the streets with a few bananas, a couple of vegetables and maybe a mango or two sit all day hoping somebody will come by and purchase them. I never felt that I was ever in danger, but the lucky and well-off  have bars on their windows for security, even the bedroom and bathroom in the Pastoral Centre where I stay. I was told that the three places I didn't want to end up in were the prison, the hospital or the nursing home. Compared to what we know, they can be desperate places.

What is less obvious is the fact that it is a very God focused culture. Once you get to know a few people and get a chance to hear them speak, you realize that they are people of great love for, and trust in, God. I got a chance to hear several of them share their faith when I preached one evening at the "soup kitchen." They spoke openly, freely and without pretense of their love for God and their trust in him, even in the face of grinding poverty and  shaky futures.

Most of the people I met were welcoming, humorous, thankful, appreciative and humble - whether it was at the soup kitchen, at parish masses, at the radio station, at the government offices or in the shops.

At home when I am hot, I turn on the air-conditioner. When I am hungry I have my pick of  hundreds of groceries or restaurants. When I want peace and quiet, I shut the door and shut out the noise. When I get sick, I go to the drug store or call my doctor. When I need money, I open my billfold, go to the ATM or write a check. When I want to go somewhere, I get in my nice car, drive down smooth roads and fill up the gas tank when it is low, pulling out one of my charge card to pay for it.  When I am down there I even carry a Medical Evacuation Policy card in my billfold. If I need to get medical attention, I will be flown off the island to a place like Miami.

I go to give what I can, but I come home knowing that I have been given to, as well. I am learning patience and I am learning to appreciate the simple things of life, the conveniences that are so available to us in this country and what some of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world have to endure every day of their lives.

Even though I am trying to help as best I can, there is not much I can do to fix the bigger problems. There is one thing, however, I can do. I can  try to quit whining about small inconveniences in my own life and always "making mountains out of mole hills." 

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