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During a recent gathering with women at the Garden of Hope Center in the northeastern Brazilian city of Bayeux, Dona Cleide arrived late and began greeting some of the women near her place on the blue judo mats.

I gently remarked to the group that it was OK to come late but to try to do it quietly. I went on to say how affectionately greeting people was a beautiful part of Brazilian culture but that perhaps we could all agree to save those moments for the end of the activity in order to not lose our focus in our large group of 30 women.

About half an hour later, a huge truck pulled up and stopped in front of the building. After some persistent honking, one of the leaders quietly left the class. Trying to follow my own suggestion, I continued our discussion on mental health even though I sensed a lot of activity on the ground floor below.

To everyone’s delight, the “interruption” was the arrival of a donation of papayas, which we all enjoyed!

Kathy Bond has been a Maryknoll lay missioner since 1993. Based in João Pessoa, Brazil, she facilitates support circles and leadership training for women focusing on mental and physical health and human rights. 

Photo courtesy of Kathy Bond