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Since opening the Mission Viejo Sai Center on Mother Teresa’s birthday, August 2000, we have been given some special opportunities to serve our dearest Lord in selfless service to the community. Along with collecting supplies for the Sea Lion Rescue Sanctuary in Laguna Beach over the years, we served hot lunch to Day Workers waiting for work, once a month, until the program was closed.
On the 3rd and 4th Sundays, we are continually blessed to serve hot vegetarian meals to 50-80 homeless men, women and sometimes children, at the OC Rescue Mission, who solely exist, they teach, “on the Love of God”. Although they serve walk-in’s, they are staffed by former homeless people, who are now committed to sober living and adherence to Jesus’ teachings in order to improve their lives (our Sai Group speaks of the Lord in general terms, sharing their devotion and love, to all forms, in our hearts). Their stories of pain and survival, and now having food and shelter, show in their eyes, and the love and appreciation they have for our little group, bring us there at 5:30 in the morning, to serve Swami through His children (as many gain a greater appreciation for the health benefits of eating Vegetarian as well). The purity of their hearts always warms and humbles us, as we realize that their hardships have given them a gift that we in our warm homes sometimes lack – strength in their faith and devotion.
For the first few years, we took two groups from the Boys’ Homes to Disneyland, and every month we took them to a Convalescent home, where they passed out homemade cards and love to all. They heard incredible wisdom and stories from the residents and how they learned from their past. (This seva continued until the children were placed in other homes). We are starting another program to visit a local Convalescent home, to entertain with singing, arts and crafts, enjoying their sweet stories of lives well lived, and reminding them with our actions, how much God loves and appreciates them!
We also have an arts and educational crafts class on the first Monday of each month at the OC Interfaith Shelter sometimes cooking dinner as well on Saturdays and special holy-days. This organization is committed to keeping families together, no matter what their spiritual beliefs, they teach parenting skills as well. This shelter has saved many a life, especially children, as the residents have three months to attend to their medical and emotional problems, learning to be self sufficient, either through education and/or role models from the staff and volunteers. With no training required, the Sai Center offers smiles and love, sometimes just teaching the little ones something as simple as how to properly wash their hands (to ones who were born under a freeway underpass), to say Please and Thank You, speaking lovingly and politely to all, by our example set by Bhagavan.
We share stories of Human Values, and give these sweet children, and sometimes extremely grateful adults, a chance to express their creativity in painting and drawing. Last March, the City of Costa Mesa exhibited their beautiful art expressions of Swami’s Five Values, in the City Hall for a month. With children ages 5-15, the young group’s classes included, “Growth of a Bean Seed”, wherein the kids planted the seed in a pot, monitored it and made notes on a daily basis. They colored the picture of the Bean Plant and we discussed the parts and the process, and gave them a chance to answer questions. For the older children (grades 5-9), we discussed the Five Elements; some played the Guitar and sang songs. For Mother’s Day/Easwaramma Day last year, we had a professional Opera singer (who has sung with Pavarotti) sing to the families, as we passed out roses during a hot, homemade vegetarian dinner. We will never forget the look on their faces -of awe, and magic, that only our dearest Bhagavan can inspire in us, as part of His divine Mission.