Communal Living and Surviving Pat
Editor’s Note: Told through stories from his time in Jamaica which highlight some of the lesser-known qualities of his friend and fellow missioner, missioner Brandon Newland reflects on the vital importance of community while on mission.
A year and four months have passed on my journey in Savanna-la-Mar, so I thought it would be a good time to speak about the fraternity one shares with his brothers while on mission. Typically, there is an initial adjustment period when living in a new community, especially when you are placed in a house with a person you don’t know very well. For me, that person was my fellow missioner, Patrick.
For those who do not know Pat, he comes across as Superman’s alter ego, Clarke Kent. He’s kind, quiet, polite, and possibly a little shy. Presumably, most people who know Pat at some basic level would agree that these words describe him well. Well, what you don’t know is that Pat is much, much, more.
Personality Trait #1 that you may not be aware of: …Gentle Butcher
For those of you who don’t know, as part our ministries, Pat and I raise chickens from a day old to full grown birds and use the meat to feed the men and women who eat at our soup kitchen. The process of raising the birds ends with us killing them – a task that I am not fond of. But guess who is a savant? Pat has perfected the art of killing a chicken so quickly that I doubt the chicken even knew what happened. He does this work with care and efficacy never before seen on this island we call home. For this reason, he has been jokingly called the “Butcher of Sav.”
Personality trait #2 that you may not be aware of: Careless Absentmindedness (Yes, I know it’s redundant)
I don’t mean this in a negative way, but at times Pat does not think all his decisions through and occasionally that puts my life at risk.
A couple weeks ago, we decided to cook for the brothers in Negril. Innocently, Pat turned on the oven for the garlic bread. I came along later and grabbed the oven lighter, lit it, and opened the oven to light the pilot light.
WHOOOSH! A huge boom and blast went through my body because the gas had been pouring into the oven for fifteen minutes or so. Luckily everyone was okay and the only casualty of the blast was my singed leg hair. Patrick is a very caring person, but I’ve learned to be extra careful around things that might go boom when in his company.
I could go on with stories about Pat, but the point of these stories is to emphasize the importance of community and each person’s unique strengths. While it’s probably best that I take charge in the kitchen, Pat is the true chicken aficionado.
Pat and I are very different in just about every way, but on mission it works. After all of our time together, we’ve learned to recognize each other’s strengths and appreciate them. We are truly the only constants each other has in our lives as far as friends and family and we both recognize how important that is. Though I enjoy and appreciate the people who have remained in touch from home, life on mission simply wouldn’t be tolerable without the Butcher of Sav by my side.
Reflection Question: During times of change in your life, what are the constants that you hold on to?