A Blessing Here and Far Away (or, When Old Ladies Collude)
By Kathy Shaffer
When you put yourself behind a table in the Jewell Room, strange things can happen.
Twelve years ago, I was selling Advent Cards to support the teacher salaries for our partnership school in Maniche, Haiti. That year, the Haiti committee thought we were taking on a big challenge by funding textbooks for the students as well as teacher salaries. Ann Hyde approached the table with her mother, Dr. Jean Peterson. I asked if she would like to buy some cards, smiling and thinking that I was addressing a nice older lady. She immediately asked, “Why aren’t you feeding the children lunch? How can they learn, if they are hungry?” I smiled again and said that supporting the salaries and now ensuring textbooks was a lot for St. Andrew’s to support. I didn’t think we could pay for a lunch program, too. Dr. Jean stared back at me for a minute and then said, “Well, you don’t know that until you try.” Dr. Jean went on to support the lunch program at St. Augustin every Monday for the last 12 years! Jean is now 98 years old. It is amazing that she instigated this meaningful ministry for children, whom she would never meet!
When the children in Haiti receive their lunch, they say grace prior to eating. The prayer always ends: “Merci, Mon Dieu.” On Mondays, I always add, “and Merci, Dr. Jean!”