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C A T H O L I C W O R K E R
So E lijah did according to the word of the L ord; he went and lived by the C herith Brook…and the ravens brought him bread… I Kings 17 by Eric Garbison
d’s Mercy & Gospel Resis icing Go tance Pract
Occasionally we are asked, “How successful is your work at Cherith Brook? Are you able to get the homeless off the streets? For one, we are rarely the reason folks get off the streets. We aren’t lawyers or social workers, we are unqualified to process them through housing programs. We aren’t employment programs, teaching new skills where needed or pointing the unemployed toward jobs. We really value those who have these skills and expertise. And we know it would be wrong to give ourselves much, if any credit for the legal, financial and programmatic resources it takes to secure housing when you have nothing. Hurry up and wait. When we went to court get housing, few of them escape the precarity on a Friday morning I expected more waiting. of poverty. Consider, for example, those who But as he came out of the courtroom, I could “live off the government”. The typical Social tell by his smile that the waiting was over. Security Disability check is somewhere around What did Jesus mean when he said “The $650 a month. Food stamps aside, that’s for poor will always be with you”? I’ll get back to everything. And then there is the struggle to you on that one. But what I do know is that find affordable housing. There is no wiggle Mike Turner went from the streets to our room for what life often throws at us. Give it community and is now living in a house with a try sometime. Also, we don’t want to contribute to the middle class myth of independence. Such a myth does not take into account that while some start at the bottom, a few start at the top and some of us started somewhere in the middle with family resources and support abounding. Success talk allows us to buy into the idol of autonomy. Not much credit is given to the (left to right) Mike, Elisabeth, and Gary enjoying the waterfall on Cliff Drive reality that we all depend on others for friends. He will have trying times ahead as something. If we are honest with ourselves, he learns to make the $650 stretch over the interdependence is more true to human expemonth. But after three years Mike knows we rience and to our call as Christians. are in it together. Most important, the Gospels give more One of our favorite practices is to visit the value to living truthful, faithful lives than behouses of these friends for a blessing. Faces ing successful in our efforts. When it comes glow and eyes water up as we move from livto being with those in poverty, the story is ing room to bedroom and kitchen (yes, even about companionship with those who live a the bathroom) to bless each space and giving daily struggle. Yes, we are somewhat hesitant thanks to God in Jesus Christ, who did some to talk of success. time in a stable on the streets and under the On the other hand we have had plenty to stars after all. celebrate. And, it hits me on occasion that we Mike is just one of several stories we have don’t do enough celebrating. celebrated this past year. I’m learning what We’ve had plenty partying going on here as will power, patience, persistence, humility of late. Mike Turner, who has lived with us on and faith it takes to transition from homeand off since 2008, was awarded Social Seculessness to stability of some kind. We have rity Disability last month. It was surreal. He learned much by traveling this difficult road applied for disability in April 2010. And then with friends. And much more to learn and he waited and waited, received an occasional much more to celebrate! phone call from lawyers, filled out forms, went to appointments, then waited some more.
Eric and LA celebrating at Micah & Taryn Waters’ wedding
Besides, success is a word we don’t use much. It sends the wrong message. For one thing, while some of our friends are able to
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House Notes: Perfect Love
by Nick Pickrell Fear can be something that enslaves us. With all the coverage of inner city violence on television and the “threat level orange” messages at the airports, it comes as no surprise that we carry fear and anxiety around with us. All of these things serve as agents of fear, leading us towards a “whatever it takes” mentality in order to ensure our survival. This fear of death leads us into things like wars and nuclear weapons programs. It also keeps us from living open and vulnerable lives, leading people daily into more and more isolation. Yes, fear can be a very powerful force; a force that can prevent us from living the ways we want to live. Thankfully, Jesus offers us freedom from being enslaved by fear. When Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to his disciples, he gave us a foretaste of our own future-that is, our own bodily resurrection that is to come. Because of this promised resurrection, we no longer need to fear death because death has been conquered on the cross. In place of that fear, love takes root in our hearts. In fact, Paul puts things into perspective, saying that “perfect love casts out fear.” Whenever we take hold of this truth, we can begin to take steps out of our fears and into our true calling. We can walk into the unknown with our arms open, ready to receive whatever comes our way. At Cherith Brook, we have been experiencing the fruit of these small steps. this tradition by reflecting on the ways in which people have found themselves wandering in our cities and streets. As you flip through the paper you will read some of the stories our friends offered to us as gifts. After we gather for a time to reflect on our modern day wanderer’s stories, we go out and spend the night on the streets of the Northeast - looking for God’s provision. While on the streets this year, incredible acts of hospitality were offered to us. Some folks let us panhandle, some shared wafer cookies, and some offered their campsites as a place for us to sleep for the night. By taking these small steps, we hope to continue to grow in our love for all people while casting out the fear that cripples us so easily. With advent now upon us, we look towards Jesus’ birth with much anticipation. It is important to remember that this birth gave hope to many people. The wise men rose above fear to see him. Jesus’ disciples rose above fear to follow him. The early Christians rose above fear to love and nurture this new community called the church. And now we get the chance to rise above fear by taking small steps towards a life of freedom and love. We only need the courage to take our first step.
Enjoying a meal at Cherith Brook’s covenanting retreat
Taryn & Micah Waters at their wedding in Lexington, MO
Micah Waters, a long-time worker at the house, recently took a leap into that love as he and Taryn Summers were recently married. Not only that, but they are now discerning how they can be a blessing to the guests and workers at Cherith Brook while living just blocks away. Another couple of long-time volunteers decided to take some steps into the unknown.
Allison Rozga and Elisabeth Rutschman decided to join us as covenanting members of this little experiment we call Cherith Brook. As our community adjusts to this new growth, we look forward to the ways these two new community members will help shape this place. Our community has also been blessed by Carol Harr, who has interned with us for the past few months. She recently retired and wanted to explore community life. Her willingness to act on her convictions has been an inspiration to us, and we will be sad to see her head back to her home in Denver. Much progress has been made towards beautifying our space at Cherith Brook. We recently repainted our front porch, repaired all the mortar work on one side of our storefront building, finished installing a wood stove for our shower house, and constructed numerous raised beds to help beautify our front yard. Many thanks are in order for all the volunteers who helped work on these projects. Thanks for making Cherith Brook a more inviting space for our guests. Once a year our house observes an old Jewish tradition called The Festival of Shelters. It was a practice established to remind the Israelites how God provided for them Carol and Henri lounging in our backyard while they were wandering. We follow in
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We Are All Immigrants
Each year when we celebrate the festival of shelters we hear stories from people in our own community that have experienced homelessness and wandering. Each year we have heard the story of one of our neighbors who is considered by our government to be ‘undocumentable.’ An undocumentable person is someone who was brought to the US by their parents as a child or has come for work or some other reason yet is unable to attain legal residency. In many ways the undocumentables living in our cities and neighborhoods are considered less than human. These stories are a helpful reminder that we are all immigrants in this country. Unfortunately though, some of us have more privilege than others. These undocumentables living among us are not aliens or animals; they are our neighbors--our brothers and sisters. May we welcome all as family. This is the story of our neighbor Santiago. Hello, my name is Santiago. I am from Durango, Mexico. Eight years ago I took a bus from Durango to Juarez on the border of Mexico and the U.S. For a few days I sat and watched the border patrol. I was able to find out when the patrols would change shifts. One day during shift change, I ran across the bridge into the United States. I ran for a mile to El Paso where I hopped on a train which brought me to Kansas City. The train ride was very dangerous. I had to hop on a moving freight train and hold on until we arrived at our destination. Many people that have tried this have been run over while trying to hop on the train or from falling asleep and falling off the train. When I first came to Kansas City, work was very off and on, and sometimes I wasn’t paid fairly. But now, after almost eight years, many people know that I am an honest and skilled worker and they call me to work for them. I have been able to make good money to send home to my family. In Durango, there is much work to be done, but there is no money. It is very hard for anyone to make a living wage. In Mexico I would make ten dollars for one day of hard
labor. In the U.S., I make ten dollars in one hour. There is much money to be earned in the U.S., but here I live with fear everyday. Every time I drive my truck to work, I think that I could be deported today. I have been able to avoid trouble from Immigration Control by working and staying out of trouble, even though many are deported everyday. But I do not want to always be hiding. Now I have a family here in the United States also that I have to take care of and provide for. My wife is a legal resident and we have a newborn baby. It is hard for our family because I have no legal papers. My wife can go back to Mexico to visit family, but I cannot return. I want to go back someday. Even though it has been hard, God has blessed me here. I hope someday that I can become a legal resident of the United States. My wife is studying to take a test for citizenship. If she can become a citizen then maybe I will be able to become a resident.
It Could Happen To Anyone
by Paul Newman It could happen to anyone. He had it all: the wife, the kids, the cars, good jobs, and did I mention he had a dog? Yes, he had it all. He would have never thought in his lifetime it could happen to him. That him is me. My name is Paul Newman and this is my story. I was homeless for about a month and two weeks. Some of you may be thinking to yourselves that a month is not that long to be homeless. I say to you, being homeless has no time frame. I didn’t choose to be homeless; there were a few causes that led to me to it. When my dad passed away, I slipped into a deep depression for several years. Around the same time this happened, I discovered that my wife had cheated on me. I also lost both my jobs. This turn of events led me to the streets. My first two nights of living on the streets were the scariest. I didn’t sleep for two days. I had no money, no food, and no shelter. This was a new world for me. I thought about suicide more than I should have. I could see myself walking in front of a bus or an 18-wheeler. I really didn’t want to live anymore but something kept pulling me back. It was God. I have always carried my Bible in my book bag so I started They provide a service that is very much needed. reading it. The more I read, the better I felt. The May God continue to shine his grace on Cherith days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Brook and the work they do. God bless you and The thoughts I had about not wanting to live didn’t God bless the world! happen as much. Homeless people have reached their situations in various ways: loss of a job, loss of a mother or father, divorce, natural disasters, abuse, mental health issues, or poverty. The next time you see a homeless person don’t be so quick to turn your nose up and look down on that person because homeless people are human beings too… and because it can happen to anyone! Cherith Brook has helped me help myself. The shelter we built to remember those who are experiencing homelessness
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The American Dream
by Ran Poudel I was born in a small village called Gairi goan in the country of Bhutan. My parents were farmers and I spent my childhood in the village environment. There were no good road systems and no transportation so I used to walk eight miles to get to school. In the 1980’s, the Government of Bhutan began enforcing discriminatory policies against the ethnic Nepalis living in Bhutan in order to create “one nation, one people and one religion.” This meant that Nepali books were burned, traditional clothing was outlawed, and use of our own language was banned. taken into custody. Every day and night the army patrolled the village, torturing the villagers and shouting for them to go to their own country, Nepal. The daily torture from the army was too much to bear so my family decided to move to India; leaving behind all our property, lands, cattle and other things. We lived in India for about 6 months, but because Bhutan had influence in India we didn’t feel safe living there. We moved to Nepal in 1991. Once settled in Nepal’s refugee camp we built a hut at the banks of Mai River. There were sixteen houses in the beginning. We worked to sustain ourselves while making low wages, usually getting rice and vegetables from the village in exchange for our work. We would take this food and share it with other family members in the camp. By 1992 we had around 100 families in the camp. The Nepal Red Cross Society distributed enough rice and other essential materials for the Bhutanese while the CARITAS missionary agency helped the Bhutanese receive education in the camps; giving scholarships for many Bhutanese refugees. We had no school building at that time because of the large population of Bhutanese so we would sit on the ground for class. While we were living at the bank of the Mai River, disease spread in the Bhutanese camp due to famine and a lack of medical supplies. Many families lost all of their family members, and every day between ten and twenty people died. In 1992, the agency decided to split and move the camp; creating seven different camps in the eastern parts of Nepal. My family moved to the Beldangi-2 Refugee camp. Because of the ethnic conflict in Bhutan, several talks were happening between the Nepal and Bhutan governments. Unfortunately, neither side reached a solution regarding Bhutanese Refugees. While we waited for a solution to be reached, I continued my education. I received my School Leaving Certificate (similar to a high school diploma) from camp and got the opportunity to study for two years out of the camp with the help of CARITAS. In 2006, after living two decades in the camps, we finally got the opportunity to apply for third country resettlement. A year later an International Organization for Migration office was established in Damak so I decided to apply for resettlement. In the beginning of 2008 my family was called for a screening. When I received the DHS letter from the IOM office I was glad to learn my family and I would be resettled in the USA. After waiting twenty days we were told when we would fly there. On September 14th, 2008, I left the refugee camp. Two days later I boarded a plane, leaving Nepal and my motherland forever. I was ready to start a new life in the United States. I thought the US would be a place where there would be no struggles. My dream turned out to be untrue. I easily passed the eighteen hours of flight time to New York because there were many Nepali speaking people on the plane. After arriving in New York, only my family was headed to Kansas City. We were driven to our house and the caseworker left us after thirty minutes. I was the only person who spoke English in my family so the other family members depended on me. We were in a new environment with no interpreter. We didn’t even have a phone for those first twenty days. My English was also hard for people to understand. I had to either spell words or write down what I was trying to say. All of this was very stressful and it began to affect my health. After receiving a free flu shot, they found 487 mg/dl of sugar in my blood. After that I met a woman named Mandila who helped me with my diabetes. She also introduced me to other Nepali people in Kansas City. This really helped me, and not too long after this I met a man named David who encouraged me to help the community. About 90% of my community is illiterate so I started helping by teaching people English. I remember something Mother Teresa once said, “If you want to make God happy go and help the helpless, needy, poor, disabled, old people, sick people and orphans.” I wanted this, so I bought a car and started taking people to eye appointments, doctor appointments, and to an ESL program we started at a place called Mission Adelante. What started as a small ESL class has now grown to over 100 adults and 100 kids. I now get to see old people writing their names and speaking their first words in English. I now work at Catholic Charities; helping people adjust to life in the USA. I thank God for sending me the friends he has. I am overjoyed to see my community starting a new life in a foreign land where there is a diversity of culture, language and people.
Ran Poudel speaking at our Festival of Shelters gathering
When I was eight years old, the Nepalis in Bhutan raised their voices against the government in order to bring democracy and equal rights to the country. In return, the government of Bhutan sent the army and police to our village. They raped daughters in front of parents and mothers in front of children; the men were severely beaten and
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A Guest’s Gifts
by Anonymous Over last three years, many gifts have come to me on a bicycle, in a backpack. Originally it was a bag of bananas, hanging from the front door in a white plastic bag. Next, it was two loaves of 12-Grain Whole Wheat bread. Once we got a whole bag of organic apples. (All of these were gleaned from a local soup kitchen “free pile”). Other times, it was help with mowing the lawn or turning the garden. I also remember when he bought me a quesadilla at one of the little Taquerias on the Avenue. For a long time, I insisted that he didn’t need to do these things. This shifted the night we made a feast together. Manny had been staying on an air mattress in our living room for the coldest nights that winter. Usually, he came after dinner. But one night, he came early and decided we should go shopping to make a big dinner together. So we went to our local ALDI discount grocery store, where he insisted on buying a family size bag of jumbo shrimp, along with avocados, two bags of blue corn chips, some mushrooms, and a package of all three colors of bell peppers. I kept asking, “Are you sure? That’s too much!” Again and again, he laughed and assured me with a smile that “We are going to eat, man! We’re having a party!” As our basket filled, I started to see that maybe he deeply needed to give us these gifts. Maybe this was the time to shut my mouth, receive, and be thankful. It was time to trade roles of host and guest. Although I’ve seen Manny maintain a very energetic friendliness in a wide variety of places, I imagine that the receive-and-be-grateful norms of most charities can slowly wear down one’s dignity. I imagine he may be among many who leave hungry for chances to be giver and host. As we approach Advent and Epiphany, Manny’s example makes me wonder what gifts were brought to Christ not by the magi, but by the shepherds and peasant farmers. The simple gifts, brought by dirty hands and in rough sacks. What gleaned harvests did they share? What fresh wildflowers along the back trails? What wooden carvings or special stones? And was it hard for Joseph to receive those gifts? Was Mary embarrassed at their generosity? It’s a good thing Christ came as a humble baby rather than a banquet host. As an utterly vulnerable being, Christ had no choice but to receive.
Swords Into Plowshares
by Elisabeth Rutschman One Tuesday morning I was sitting down with a friend as she was waiting for her shower. She had a big bag of things she wanted to donate; mainly toiletries and clothing. As she took out each item and set it on the table, she told me about how she had gotten it and how she wanted us to have it. Soon, the table was filled with beautiful gifts. Then, I was aghast when my friend unzipped her sports bag and pulled out an enormous grill-fork! She explained that she originally got it so she could defend herself while living on the streets. Now, she was handing it to me because she decided even carrying it around with her might mean that she would use it some day. “I am sure you can put it to better use in the kitchen,” she said as she handed it to me. The giant fork that could have been used as a weapon is now hanging in our kitchen. It is a powerful reminder to me that we indeed can beat our swords into plowshares. In light of the transformation of this grill-fork, I would like to share a prayer for the transformation of our city’s new Nuclear Weapons Facility: “You have given us life, intelligence and the beauty of Creation, O Lord. Your good gifts were given so we might be stewards of all that is alive. In our arrogance, we have unleashed fearful forces that destroy. We have brought down fierce fire from the sky. Your children have been burned, your gentle green earth scorched. Fear rules us now, not Love; we have given in to evils, lesser and greater. In your mercy, help us turn from destruction, from the bombs and barricades. Lead us to Life again, to affirmation of all goodness and to international disarmament. With your grace, may we begin to dismantle the bombs, beat the swords into plowshares, and so transform the nuclear nightmare into the peace you have proposed. Hear our prayer, Lord, and guide us in your ways. Amen” (Written by Education for Justice)
Coffee, Sugar, Creamer Vinegar (gallon size for cleaning) Firewood Baking Soda Dish Soap Toilet Paper Milk, Eggs, Butter Dried Beans & Rice Salt & Pepper Shakers Folding Tables (standard size) Trailer (flat bed) Bicycles & Bike Trailers Old candles Straw bails Canning lids
Tennis Shoes (men’s & women’s) Jeans & Belts (men’s 30-34, women’s 4-6, 16-18) Men’s Underwear (size 32-38) Women’s Panties (esp. 4-7) Pads & Tampons Shampoo & Conditioner Deodorant & Razors Tube Socks Foot Powder Toothpaste & Brushes Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Theraflu Laundry Soap (high efficiency) Bus Passes Stamps Long Underwear (see jeans sizes) Winter Gloves, Hats & Scarves Winter Coats & Hoodies (esp. L & XL)
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
3308 East 12th Street Kansas City, MO 64127 (816) 241-8047 firstname.lastname@example.org http://cherithbrookcw.blogspot.com
Our Who Are We? Schedule
Community—Cherith Brook is a residential Christian community committed to sharing table fellowship with strangers, and all our resources with one another. We have found our inspiration from the early church, the Church of the Savior, and the Catholic Worker. Mercy—Our daily lives are structured around practicing the works of mercy as found in Jesus’ teachings. We are committed to regularly feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, visiting the prisoner and the sick in the name of Jesus. Peacemaking—As followers of Jesus, we understand our lives to be centered in God’s Shalom. Cherith Brook strives to be a “school” for peacemaking in all its dimensions: political, communal, and personal, working constantly to undo poverty, racism and militarism. These three orbs can be summed up as the struggle to connect with the God of life. We pray that Cherith Brook is a space where all of us—the broken—can come to learn and relearn the ways of Jesus; a place to struggle together for God’s call of love, mercy, peace and justice. Showers Prayers Community Meal Women’s Day Haircuts Garden Workday Group Workday M, T, Th, F M, W, F Th Monthly, Last Wed Monthly, 2nd Sat M Monthly, 2nd Sat 8 am–noon 6:30–7 am 5–7 pm 11:30 am–2 pm 9–11 am 2-5 pm 9 am–1 pm
November 23-25 Cherith Brook closed for Thanksgiving December 10 Group Workday cancelled! December 21 - January 4 Cherith Brook closed for the holidays