God does ‘almost everything’ and we ‘almost nothing’

5 July, 2018

Dear Religious Family,

We would like to share with you a beautiful story about a poor ‘vagabond’ who has come daily to our Chapel in The Hague. His name is Barry; he is Welsh. he came for the first time about a year ago, when he enjoyed a cup of coffee in our meeting room and then left. There was nothing particular about this first visit, except the smell that he had.

For a long time we did not see him again. At the end of last summer, when we re-opened the Chapel after our time of community recreation, he came again to the meeting room. Still homeless, nothing had changed. We gave him coffee and food, and he asked if he would be able to stay there for a little while, seated. Of course, this was no problem, but the time came when we had to ask him to go, since it was time to close.

He came back every day. If the coffee-room was not open when he arrived (because we had Adoration), he waited outside on the side walk or walked up to the door of the Chapel and looked in. we gave him something to eat every day, and he never accepted the offer to take food with him, but would eat everything seated in the meeting room.

In the beginning, the help that we offered to him was very superficial. Until one of the sisters began to question him further: where did he come from; what was his name; did he have family, etc. In the beginning he didn’t want to give too much information, but after some time, little by little, he began to share some personal information. We asked him if he had a telephone number to contact his family, but he couldn’t find it. We asked him the name of his family and where they lived, in order to look online and see if we could find the number, but, sadly we could not find anything.

A few weeks later, he arrived at the meeting room with a little paper: the name and phone number of his mother. After a few tries, we were able to connect with his family, and he spoke with his mom.

Barry was already well-known in the organization that works with the ‘vagabonds’ in Holland, and his parents had once been here in order to bring him back home, but without any positive response. From the moment that we had contacted his family, we meant something more to Barry. We found help for him to be able to return to Wales, where he came from, but he needed, logically, a passport… which he didn’t have. And neither did he want to take a picture for this process… This was the most difficult thing.

What was the funniest and most peculiar thing about Barry was that if we asked him something, he immediately gave a negative response… but nevertheless, a couple days later he would come with a positive response. This was how it was for his passport for example, a few days later he wanted to have his photo taken. At Christmas he wanted to speak to his mom, and we were trying to connect with her, but without success. When he spoke with her later, he told her that he wanted to return home, if she could come to bring him home.

Meanwhile, we established contact with his mother and with a Dutch organization that could help him. Finally, we understood that this institution had kept guarded Barry’s passport. This was a great help, of course. On the 22nd of January, his mother traveled from Wales in search for Barry, but Barry was no longer around, he had gone to the streets. They looked all morning and found him, but there was something more: to convince him to go with them (he had already changed his mind). It was difficult, but they did it, and that same night they took a ship toward England.

We thought that all had gone well, that after so much time as a vagabond, he had finally returned home… but no, it wasn’t that easy!… Tuesday, in England, he again took his feet (and his “liberty”) and escaped. But God doesn’t let himself be defeated; He has already conquered even death! Two days later, Barry took a train and by himself returned to his mom’s house. A great grace!

We give thanks to God that Barry has returned home to his family where they can help him with the things and medicine that he needs. As a saint once said: God does ‘almost everything’ and we have ‘almost nothing’ to do, but if we do not put in our ‘almost nothing’, then God will not do ‘almost everything’. This is what we have seen in this case: we were not able to do much, but we did the little that we could, and God did the rest.

We entrust Barry and his family to our heavenly Mother; and pray that this return home will bring him closer to God, our only Redeemer.

Sr. Maria Am Kreuz, SSVM

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