Scrabble in the Ministry Center

scrabbleEmmaus’s Kaio program brings together young adults from all walks of life. This year, there are four of us: Jessica, Peter, Ellen, and me, and I could not hand pick a group of people with such different personality traits if I tried. But the beauty of this is that each of us has specific and unique gifts and talents to offer the men, the staff, and each other. Throughout the year, I’ll write a story about each of the Kaio members and how they bless me and our men. Today, we begin with Jessica.

“José” visits the Ministry Center often, and Jessica quickly connected with him. Jessica has a gift of meeting the men where they’re at. She lets them come around to her instead of trying too hard or buttering up to them.

José enjoys the game of Scrabble, so Jessica frequently plays with him. One day while playing with them, I realized that José has about the spelling aptitude of a fifth grader. I was struck in two ways. Even though he doesn’t spell proficiently, José always asks Jessica to play Scrabble with him. If I were a poor speller, I’d try to hide it, and I’d certainly avoid games like Scrabble! But I highly doubt it’s the game itself that José loves. Rather, he loves playing it with Jessica because of how she makes him feel. And if I were Jessica, constantly playing Scrabble with someone who couldn’t spell, I’d quickly become frustrated and probably quit. Jessica, on the other hand, gently corrects José and teaches him how to spell, but still encourages him and gives him points. She doesn’t let José stay where he is, but she also shows him mercy.

Isn’t that the Lord? Jesus calls us out of our complacency to walk with Him, but at the same time showers us with His compassion and love.

José and Jessica have also bonded over their love for sweets. The other day he brought her Twizzlers, and he told me he’s planning to buy her ice cream next month since it’s her favorite dessert. I wish you could’ve seen the excitement on José’s face as he revealed to me his plan! This man desires to spend what little money he has on a gift for Jessica, because it brings him great delight to make her happy.

I am reminded of James 1:17-18: “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.” The Lord has instilled this selfless heart of love in José, a reflection of His own most sacred heart. Likewise, Jesus takes pleasure in doting upon us and giving us His good gifts and graces; all that’s required from us is our “yes.”

I’m looking forward to the day José gives Jessica her gift of ice cream. I bet they will enjoy it together over a game of Scrabble.

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