PARAGUAY, by Ani Souberlich and Maria Fischer •
One afternoon in the life of one who lives in covenant solidarity with the very poor: “I arrived home from work. I took a shower and then I got to work: ironing clothes I washed yesterday to make packages for our ‘100 houses’ families and those I meet along the way…”
When Ani Souberlich meets with her schoolmates, with friends or with Schoenstatters, they already know what will happen: she asks for clothes they no longer use, for toys, and anything that their children used at school last year. She also accepts pots, kitchen utensils…simply everything that someone who has nothing needs and can use.
Everything that comes to her house is organized: clothes are washed and ironed; sometimes, a bicycle or some other donated thing must be repaired. Everything goes into bags and packages to be taken to the families once the rain has stopped and the roads are passable.
“I wish I had the means and the time to help everyone equally…but I cannot do everything. I believe the Good Lord is happy with our perseverance and care!” Ani commented.
Word gets around and more people come to see the clothes
Sunday, 3 April was a sunny and very hot day. “I am distributing little toys,” Ani commented, “and the children’s faces made it all worthwhile. So little can light up their eyes.”
Mothers and some fathers approach to look at the clothes; they try them on to see if they fit…Word gets around and more people come to see the clothes…
It is so little and yet it is so much. The clothes, the toys…aren’t they the five loaves of bread and two fish? “One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him: There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” (Jn.6: 8-9). There are 30, 40, 50 bags of clothing and toys, some 160 houses of solidarity. What good is this for so many people? But…what is this in Jesus’ hands?
When Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan from Vietnam was asked to tell about his life as a victim of communist dictatorship, he walked to the altar and he responded: “I do what the passage of the Gospel says where Jesus gives five loaves of bread and two fish: that is nothing before a multitude of thousands of people, but it is all his and Jesus does it all, it is a gift and a mystery. Like the boy in the Gospel, I summarize my experience in seven points: five loaves of bread and two fish. That is nothing, but it IS everything I have. Jesus will do the rest…