Today I’ll be talking with Jen Fulwiler on her radio show — if you’d like a free copy of “Advent with St. Teresa of Calcutta,” just leave a comment below about the show, and I’ll put you in a drawing for a free book!
For many people, the weeks leading up to Christmas are full of rich food, lavish parties, and mall hopping till you drop. So today I thought I’d share with you a simple vegetarian meal with flavors reminiscent of the adopted homeland of Mother Teresa, and my new book with Servant/Franciscan Media Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
Recently at our parish mission, I had a distinct sense of déjà vu. My daughter’s eyes lit up as a middle-aged missionary (in this case, a priest) spoke in animated language about the needs of those he serves, and challenged those in the congregation to give and to go. Clearly, Sarah was eager to take up that challenge — and I offered to go with her to talk to the priest afterwards.
I’d had a similar experience when I was her age, and a missionary had come to the small non-denominational church my family and I had belonged to for years. The missionary had given a similar challenge, and my middle-school self could not wait to join the effort. After the service was done, I went up to talk to him . . . and I’ll never forget how his eyes scanned over my head, looking for older and more suitable candidates. Sadly I walked away, wondering why he didn’t want me — and promising God that he could still have me, if he wanted.
Turns out, God did. About five years later, the good people of my church rallied together to raise my support, and I spent an amazing year in Senegal, West Africa as a short-term missionary before going to work in publishing (a mission field of a different kind).
And so, when this missionary priest scarcely looked my daughter in the eye as I invited him to sit with us at lunch (he was unable to do so), I decided to take it upon myself to cultivate this hunger for missions. Last night we made a “Mother Teresa Dinner,” (the recipes have been posted on the Franciscan Media website), and talked about her life among the poorest of the poor as we made naan bread.We also talked about friends like Colleen Mitchell, a Catholic missionary who works (with her husband Greg and their children) among at-risk mothers and their children in Costa Rica, and her book
Who Does He Say You Are?
I don’t know if Sarah will wind up going to the mission field. But I want her to know that she can . . . if God wants her, and she is willing to go.