Felismina, the girl in my story, is the bigger girl with the big, beautiful smile. This was us doing the "Roo-chi-cha chant" at our vacation bible school. Double click for a bigger picture.
I love Mozambique. I love the people. I love walking through the markets and talking to people. I love that we have neighbor children playing in our yard on the weekends. I love the noise of our interns practicing music for Sunday. I love the laughter of lots of teenaged girls when the Youth For Christ kids come over to meet on Wednesdays.
I love our life and ministry here...most of the time.
There are those days, however, when the strain of life here brings out the worst in me. Usually, it's after a series of events where I feel powerless to do anything or know that whatever small thing I do is just a temporary "fix".
Here's my story for this week:
Sunday a.m. as we prepared to greet people for church at our house, we discovered a woman lying face down in the sand outside of our gate. We weren't sure if she was alive or dead, drunk or sleeping. We decided to leave her be until after the service, thinking maybe, if she was drunk, she'd sleep it off and be on her way. I had trouble sitting through the service and, actually, didn't make it to the end before I went back to check on her. She was on all fours, trying to get up. I called Rodger and he came out. She was very old, very toothless, very spunky and didn't speak a lick of Portuguese but had alot to say nonetheless! :) I ran to get her some water which she refused as she continued to talk non-stop. Rodger went back to the service and I called a young man who was walking by to come over and translate for us. She said she wasn't thirsty, she was hungry and weak. I ran in the house, got some fruit and a piece of leftover chicken and knelt beside her in the sand. I told the young man to tell her that we were not rich people but that we wanted to give this to her to bless her in the name of Jesus. Well, I know enough changana(her language) to know that he left out the "in the name of Jesus" part, so I asked him to say it again! :) She accepted and smiled a toothless smile. My heart felt light at being able to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Fast forward to Monday, our day off. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was gathering up my bible study materials, water bottle, and chair to sit in the sun and enjoy my time alone with God. About the time I was ready to sit down, my 13 year old neighbor girl came in. A young lady who has been part of our neighborhood bible clubs. Right away, I was feeling frustrated at the interruption. She came to tell me that she was hungry and they had no food at their house. I told her to wait and came in the house to talk to Rodger.
The conversation was one we've probably had a thousand times before and went a little something like this:
Me: "Well, once again, I can't even sit in my own yard on my day off without being interrupted. (Heavy sigh). Felismina is here. They have no food at their house. What do we do?"
Rodger: "Honey, if we start this, it will become a pattern that we can't stop. Then where do they get food for tomorrow and then the next day?"
Me: "I know, but I can't let that little girl go to school hungry."
Rodger: (Heavy sigh). "give her something and tell her that you need to speak with her mother or father. There are 11 people living at that house. We can't afford to feed them all."
I put together some bread and butter and gave her some eggs. I told her I needed to speak to her mother and sent her on her way. My heart felt heavy, discouraged, annoyed...most of all, I felt tremendous guilt. Guilt that my first response was about the fact that I was being inconvenienced. Guilt that, just yesterday, I was thrilled to be the hands and feet of Jesus, but today, on my day off, I didn't want to be. Guilt that I was about to eat leftover pasta and vegetables. Frustration that we're perceived as "rich" Americans. Frustration that there are SO MANY all around us just like Filismina and we could have a line at our gate all day every day of people needing assistance.
At this point, there was absolutely no way I could concentrate on my bible study. I told Rodger I had to get away and went over to the Flurry's house, knowing that they were not home and I could have some time to think. I sat on their front porch and cried out to God about the condition of my heart. I asked Him to remove my "heart of stone" and give me His heart. I asked for wisdom and I asked for it IMMEDIATELY, before I had to talk to this child's mother.
He was faithful again and gave me an answer. " Help this mother start something."
So, 1 hour later, with a heart that felt "right" again, I sat face to face with this woman. I asked her questions and let her talk about why they have no food. She said that she and her husband both need jobs. I explained to her that we aren't yet at a place in the egg business to offer employment to others outside of our interns but that, as a family, we wanted to offer a gift to help. We bought 15 dozen eggs for her as "start-up". I explained that she can sell them for a small profit, keep the profit, reinvest to buy more eggs to sell. She was pleased and is giving it a try. Please pray for her!
Please pray for us in these situations we face each day. They absolutely wear us down when we try to handle them in our strength and that was where I was on Monday.
The truth is, we ARE powerless.
Please pray that we will CONSISTENTLY learn to handle these situation with the grace and wisdom that comes from God alone. I am so glad His ways are perfect, trustworthy and true.