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Editor’s Note: As part of our “Comfort and Joy” Advent/Christmas blog series, missioner Patrick Montine speaks to the power of companionship and shares how his time working in a food kitchen in Jamaica has led to a deeper realization of the importance of relationships.

I spend some of my time each week helping out at the food kitchen that we have at the Shawn Lavery Hall (our parish hall) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We only have the food kitchen two days at the Catholic Church, since the other week days the kitchen is run by the Anglican Church and the Presbyterian Church of the Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

After working at the food kitchen for the past couple of months, I am becoming more familiar with the people who come to the kitchen. We have 20 men and about two women who come to the kitchen.

For this post, I am going to talk about two men in particular. One is a man in his 50s or early 60s. He speaks well and is easy to understand. I see him around town on his bicycle. He used to have a job but fell on hard times.

His friend is in his late 60s and is harder to understand. He can’t stand without help and he moves very slowly. If the older man isn’t there, his friend gets his food and delivers it to him.  

The kitchen

The food kitchen where Patrick serves 

Both of these men are low on the economic ladder and are not economically stable enough to really support themselves anymore. The people who come to the kitchen to get food are usually people who live on the street or are experiencing extreme poverty .

These two men have so little but the younger one still helps the older one. Every week I see this bond of friendship and support that they have for each other. In Jamaica, where everything seems to come at a price, this is a great example of friendship and mutual relationship. This is what Advent is about, showing presence in people’s lives.

As we prepare for baby Jesus to come into our lives and fulfill the Messianic Promise, we should remember that what is important about Advent and the holidays is spending time with our friends and family.

During this time, people will get lots of gifts, but they will break or fade with time. The real gift is spending time with your family and friends. The real gift is being present, which is what these men show.

This Advent season, spend time with your family and friends so that you can cherish those memories. I am feeling good about this Advent season and excited that my family is coming to visit for Christmas. I am going to spend time with my friends and family by being present to them even though I am far away and I also am going to make an effort to make some new friends in Jamaica.

Question for reflection: How can you be more present to others?

Featured image – adaptation of photo by Flickr user Wonderlane.

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