St. Patty’s Patio Party by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

The rules are clear at most of the Mazatlán orphanages: when you turn 18, you are on your own (much like the foster care system in America).

When Guy and Nicole learned about a group of orphaned, male teens who wanted to go to college, they found a way to make it happen and opened El Refugio, a home where the boys could stay until they graduated from college and were on their feet.

For St. Patrick’s Day, Dave and I and dozens of other couples attended a St. Patty’s Patio Gala fundraiser at the founders’ home built on a cliff overlooking the ocean.

Wearing green “Gems of Mazatlán” t-shirts, we represented the group overseeing the care of the five local orphanages. All evening, the eighteen-year-olds, dressed in their El Refugio polo shirts and jeans, carried trays of hors d’oeuvres and manned drink stations, all smiling and offering to help.

When we entered Guy and Nicole’s home, we were given a game card. We were to fill in the blanks for four contests, each located on a different balcony as we descended the cliff where their home was perched.

First, we guessed how many Irish, gold coins were mounded on a table. Descending two flights of stairs, we were at pool level where we wrote how many shamrocks were floating in the water. On the next tier was a table holding various glass containers, each filled with green water and one question: How many total ounces are represented? The last balcony was next to a raised, grassy area with green rope strung through various trees. Our task was to estimate how many inches of rope we saw. For the grand prize—dinner at four of Mazatlán’s nicest restaurants—we added up all of our amounts, wrote that number down, and placed our cards in a large, green box. I compared cards with Jill, my accountant-friend, who reminded me that we always under estimate. I added another thousand to my answer and turned in my card. I didn’t win.

What was interesting was how people viewed this contest. There were those like me who painstakingly labored over each area. Others haphazardly wrote down whatever number popped into their head, knowing they weren’t going to win anyway. Some used their phone calculators (which I thought strange). There were contestants who guarded their cards and others who shared their guesses. I offered to show mine to other guests, but no one seemed interested.

Isn’t that the same with how people witness about Jesus? Some memorize various scriptures to be able to recite—in order—the Plan of Salvation. No mistakes allowed. Some ho-hum the entire process (“I’ll think about that tomorrow”) while others hope they do enough good things to get a passing grade. I know people who just “wing it,” hoping someone asks them what they believe so they don’t have to initiate the tough talk.

The saddest, to me, are the ones who keep their faith to themselves and fail to share it at all. You know, the “Private matter” syndrome. The last category is the one in which zealots speak of nothing else and run people away: “So, how about those Jayhawks?” “Yes, God is an amazing creator, isn’t He?”

Then again, who am I to judge? I can’t even guess how many shamrocks are floating in a pool, much less how God works.

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