Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Finish Line
I made it!  After 21 Wednesdays, 57 hours of lessons, at least 124 hours of preparation, 6 hours of rehearsals and the seemingly endless messages between myself and the 20 sets of parents of my 23 students ranging from 7 ½ to 12 years old.
Was it worth the sleepless nights worrying if I had enough material or if the YouTube films were age appropriate?  Was it worth the rise in my blood glucose level and my blood pressure as I juggled home, work, social life, church commitments and the responsibility for 23 souls? Was it worth the fear that many of the children will never really understand that the host is more than a cookie and that all of the lessons had been in vain?  Was it worth the anxiety that I caused in my husband whose only fault is to protect me – even from myself? 
Was it worth it?  Several weeks after the event, I can look back and smile. No more palpitating heart.  Just a sense of contentment and tranquility. 
I have prepared 14 sets of children for First Holy Communion in the last 18 years.  It was my way of giving thanks for all that I have received in my life.  It is my testimony to the faith that has seen me, and those I love, through good times and not so good ones.
This year was my last class, my swan song.   It has also been the most difficult.  Not only because of the size of the class.  But principally because of the children’s age range, their varying levels of fluency in the language, as well as their actual knowledge and exposure to the faith of their elders. 
I have always believed that God gives me gifts along the way.  Telling me I am on the right path, encouraging me as I falter.  And He has done it again.  This is the year that I have felt most connected to the parents of the children. Nearly everyone came for an hour each week to stay with me during the class providing me with an extra pair of eyes and hands.
He also sent me a friend. Someone who came not only to help with the activities that I had organized, but who came for me.  Someone who listened, who helped make things right and made me laugh.  Someone who understood that I had taken on too much. 
On the 21st of April, I reached the Finish Line. First Communion Day.                 
And FINISHED was what I thought I would feel.  But as I watched my 23 boys and girls, nervously gripping their white, long stemmed roses walk down the aisle towards the altar under a canopy of yellow and white paper flowers, I sensed instead a tremendous surge of energy, much like an Adrenalin rush.  I did not even notice the pinch of my ½ size too small high heels as I led them to and from their various assigned tasks. 
What I felt was pride.
Pride in each of these beautiful children who came every Wednesday, who proudly showed me their homework, asked me questions many of which I could barely answer and opened my eyes to a child’s view of the world and of God.   Pride in the way they conducted themselves through the 2 ½ hour service.  Pride in my role as mentor.  Praying that having brought them this far, they will continue their journey of faith and love.
Am I truly finished?  No, I am not.  I am taking a break and then starting a new project – introducing young adults to the Sacrament of Confirmation. 
Right now, I am a long way from the next starting line.  But I am getting ready for the challenge. 

    Sometimes, even good girls can be bad! 

Rocky Road

Preparation time : 15-20 minutes

  • 100gm butter, cubed
  • 300gm milk or dark chocolate ( I usually do 100 gm of dark (70 %) and 200 gm of milk chocolate)
  • 4 tbsp corn syrup or honey
  • 200 gm digestive or wholewheat cookies, crushed into small pieces 
  • 75 gm marshmallows (in Holland, they are called spekjes and are pink and white) sliced into small cubes
  • 75gm dried fruit like raisins, mango, apricot …
  • 75gm salted peanuts or walnuts, roughly chopped

Procedure :
1.     Line a baking tray or a rectangular baking dish with baking paper. 
2.    Put the cookies, marshmallows, dried fruits and nuts into a bowl and mix well.
3.    Fill a large pot 1/3 of the way with water and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.
4.    Fill a second pot with small pieces of chocolate and place it on top of the first pot. They should fit together in a way where the top pot rests in place about 1/2 inch above the boiling water.
5.    Stir the chocolate constantly. As soon as the chocolate begins to melt, lower the fire and add the butter to the chocolate.  Blend well.  
6.    Turn off the heat and then add the honey. Stirring it until the honey is completely dissolved.
7.    Pour the chocolate into the bowl with the cookie-fruit mixture. Make sure that the chocolate coats all of the mixture.
If you wish, you can save a small portion of the chocolate for the topping.
Fill the prepared baking tin with the entire mixture. Press evenly to cover the whole tin.
8.    Using a rubber spatula, spread the rest of the chocolate on top.
9.    Let it cool.  Then put the entire tray into the freezer for at least 30 minutes to harden.
Remove from the freezer and slice to serve. Or transfer to the fridge until ready to serve.

This keeps for at least 2 weeks in the fridge.  Longer if you keep it in the freezer and just defrost about 2 hours before serving.


Valerie said...

Alma, you are amazing in your ability to carry through despite some hurdles that you might come across. So glad that this is another milestone for you and that you will mow have more time to enjoy your life. Congrats on your upcoming retirement! Much love...

aclutariopatist said...

thanks, val... you are one of the gifts God has given me along the way. And you continue to be a very dear friend. Cn't wait to see you in your own turf and see Florida through your eyes. big hug!!

Unknown said...

Congratulations, Ate! I can only imagine your journey that has led you to such an accomplishment. You are indeed God’s shepherd to these children and the children of the past 17 years. I honor your faith, service and dedication. I am so proud of you!

aclutariopatist said...

Thank you, my dear sister. You have been through more than I have ever had. It is you that I stand in awe of. Really. Love you mucho!

cvassmer said...

Lovely blog, you are such a giving soul. Each one of your children through the years and especially this much larger group this year, will have cherished memories of their time spent with you and how you shared your faith and love for them to flourish in their futures. Thank you for sharing, you made my day!

aclutariopatist said...

thanks, Carla!! I hope that I have contributed something to these children. I am not so sure. My own kids do not even go to church unless i drag them. But, I live in hope!
big hug, my dear!

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Thank you so much Alma. It was really great to see your multiple blogs, it again took us through the pains and the hardships which you took to get these kids to the finish line. Thank you so much for assisting the kids to begin their spiritual life with God. You are amazing...we love you so much...