Dear Friends of Joseph House:
According to verse twenty-one of the nineteenth chapter of Proverbs, “Many are the plans of the human heart, but it is the decision of the Lord that endures.”
A Yiddish proverb puts it another way: “We plan and God laughs.”
We all know what it’s like. We have hopes and dreams, we make plans and get ready for what we have in mind, and then the unexpected happens. We find out, once again, that the universe is under no obligation to cooperate with us. It could be rain on the day of a picnic, or something much more consequential, like a pandemic. Despite our power and strength, there is a limit to what we can control.
That’s why wise people always add “God willing” whenever they make any sort of plans.
Coping with change and the unpredictability of life can make us resilient. But each individual can only handle so much, especially when great losses are involved. Regina, for example, never imagined the pain and difficulties she would have to face. She was married, had children, and was working as a nurse. Seventeen years ago, however, she became infected with flesh-eating bacteria. An area of her upper leg had to be surgically removed. The infection still spread and she went into septic shock. Regina ended up on a ventilator and suffered permanent lung damage. She was also paralyzed from the waist down but has since regained the ability to walk.
Now 58, Regina’s health remains fragile. She needs additional surgery for a skin graft, wound care, and an ostomy. Making matters immeasurably worse is that she is alienated from her family. She feels betrayed by her ex-husband. Forced to live on a meager disability income, Regina did the circuit of substandard housing that is the fate for many people who are poor. She lived in neighborhoods where drug deals openly took place and in houses infested with rodents and mold. She even lived in her car until it broke down in someone’s driveway. Her last stop before contacting us was a motel. It was clean and she felt safe with her two therapy cats (her beloved companions throughout her trials), but the cost was rapidly draining her money away.
The first thing we did was pay for a week at the motel to give us time to find an affordable and hygienic apartment for Regina. That was not an easy task. We contacted everyone we knew who could help us. Another week was required at the motel, and then a third. We paid the bills but we were feeling desperate, along with Regina, and we let the Lord know about it in our prayers. Finally, success! A place was found and another agency agreed to help Regina with rental assistance.
Regina later told us how grateful she was for all the help she received. She feels like it was divine intervention. She said it has been a true learning experience, both about herself and in terms of renewing her faith and trust in others. That’s really the best we can hope for when life doesn’t happen the way we planned.
Barry, 59, has had his life derailed by a bite from a brown recluse spider. He almost died, and the arm that received the bite is limp and useless. Barry thinks his livelihood as a master mechanic is gone for good. He said he just doesn’t feel right. His doctor has ordered more tests, but so far there is no conclusive diagnosis. With no income at the moment, Barry was worried about getting evicted. We sent $400 to his landlord to help cover the back rent.
Colleen, 64, is very lame with arthritis. Her house is horrible: the mold problem is getting out of hand and the windows are sealed shut. She has lived there for sixteen years. Colleen was trying to stay cool in the stifling summer heat with an electric fan, but she really needed an air conditioner. We paid her water bill ($350) to stop the impending cut-off. We also made arrangements to have an air conditioner delivered through an agency that helps seniors. Colleen will also get food from Meals on Wheels.
Audrey, 47, lives on disability. Her car (with over a quarter of a million miles on it) broke down. The repair bill was $680, which is more than her monthly disability check. Audrey has been trying to pay off this bill, but it set her back in her rent and she received an eviction notice. The Department of Social Services and another agency did not have funds to help her. We paid the amount needed to stop the eviction ($200) plus the final $80 of the car repair bill.
Leslie, 46, had to leave her job because her stomach cancer was getting worse. She has no income, although she has applied for government benefits. Since Leslie was unable to pay her rent, we sent $300 to her landlord.
Sheila, 63, is disabled and in poor health. Several weeks ago, she needed to start using an oxygen concentrator at home to help her breathe. Sheila was unprepared for the increase in her electric bill. From her $900 monthly check she already pays $600 for rent. We paid the $320 due on the electric, but Sheila will have to cut what little she can from her monthly expenses.
Delores, 39, works in health care. When she experienced flu-like symptoms she had to quarantine for two weeks. Fortunately, she did not have COVID-19, but like many working people she lives paycheck-to-paycheck. The lost pay put her behind in the rent. Delores has a young daughter. She is also a victim of domestic violence and does not receive child support. We sent $400 to her landlord. Delores is determined not to get in this situation again. She is now working a second job.
The universe may not always cooperate, but there’s no reason we can’t cooperate with each other. The pandemic is another reminder that sometimes our individual efforts are not enough—we need to work together to solve our problems and ensure the well-being of all.
The Joseph House is supremely blessed to have people like you working with us. Your prayers and support make a big difference to many people. And let us remember that, no matter what happens, “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Rom 8:28).
We never tire of giving thanks for you and pray for you every day. As we mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we also pray for peace in our world. May God’s love bring an end to all division and strife.
Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary
We pray for our benefactors and friends every day. Please send us your prayer requests using our Contact Form.
We need your help. Learn how you can support our ministries to those in need: Donate.