Thursday, June 21, 2012

Unexpected blessings

God moves in mysterious ways. But sometimes they seem exceptionally ordinary when we stop to pay attention. Our two new interns are here and I have been introducing them to the community. Yesterday we went out to go visiting, my usual peeps: Seidy, Don Luis, Verania, maybe Carmen, go up to the high place where you can see the whole community. As we were walking down the street Don Juan snagged my attention...yes, I caught the irony, and yes, he is called Don Juan. That's actually quite common here. He is an elderly man with diabetes that has taken part of his foot so he can't walk well. He sits in front of his house all day, every day, and in the afternoons he switches to the other side of the street to catch the best sunlight. He lives around the big bend on the main road past the third pulperia in front of the blue gate (yes, that's how we give directions here). We always wave at each other when I pass and he always calls me "little one". Today as we passed he waved me over frantically: the reading glasses I had given him a few months ago were no longer working well, did I have time to trade them for a stronger pair? In a split second conversation I asked the Lord whether I should turn around and walk all the way back to the house to drag the glasses kit down now or tell him I would come back after lunch...Census (AKA Holy Spirit) says: go back to the house now and get the glasses. It also just so happened that the egg man, also selling fruits and veggies from his truck, had stopped to sell Don Juan his daily eggs and overheard our conversation. He wanted to know if he could get a pair of reading glasses....Holy Spirit?? SURE!!!!

So the girls and I trudged all the way back up to the house, filled a bag with an assortment of prescriptions of reading glasses, and headed back out. Meanwhile Seidy is frantically texting me, wondering where we were since I told her we would be up to visit a half hour ago. I gave Don Juan his glasses and then fit the egg man for some, too. Yes, this is the same egg man we hear in our house every morning. He was really thankful and asked how much they were. I said that since they were a gift to me, they were a gift to him, which in effect is a practical way of showing the love of Jesus. He was a bit stunned. He asked if I was sure?? There was nothing I wanted in return?? Well, I paused, I told him we were headed out to visit people in the community, some of which had very little food, and if he wanted to donate some fresh produce, I would in turn gift it to some one in need. Again, he seemed a bit stunned by that. He was on the beginning of his morning run. He asked where we were going and if he could give us some later...obviously he wanted to try and sell the best that he had first. I told him where we were going but not to worry about it. If we saw him again he could donate with no obligation. I could see he was torn. He wanted to donate something, but I could tell he also wanted to make a profit.

Up to Seidy's we went, girls in tow. We spent the majority of the morning there, laughing and talking about whatevers. A good while into our conversation Jason came to the door. Jason is one of my favorite people in the community. Most people who come to work here know Jason. He is exactly my age, but looks much older from the life he's had. He also struggles with an addiction to drugs. You can tell how he's doing by how skinny he is...the skinnier the more he is depending on drugs because he uses his money to buy that instead of food. Today he looked pretty good, but hungry. I think Jason is one of Seidy's favorites, too, because she invited him right in for coffee and breakfast. Not even 5 minutes later another guy named Chino came to the door, also a struggling addict (not the Chino that normally comes to our church, another one). Seidy called him in for coffee and breakfast, too. Jason used Seidy's shower and she gave Chino a clean shirt. I turned to the girls. THIS is what the Kingdom of God looks like. It's what the church used to look like before it fell asleep. It looks like being known as the house to go to when you're hungry. That you will be welcomed in and not shunned. That you will be offered a place at the table and clean clothes to wear. That you will be give a warm embrace and called "son", which Seidy literally called both of these boys before they left to go about their day. It looks like a woman giving generously out of her poverty. It looks like a woman giving food to the hungry because there was a need, even though she and her family occasionally go hungry as well. It looks like giving freely knowing that the recipient at this point in time has no hope of being able to return the favor. Goosebumps.

View from the high place
After the guys left, I invited Seidy to walk up with us to the high place. I wanted to show the girls the community from a totally different angle, and most teams never make it up there. The four of us walked deep into the area of the community known as the Mangoes. It's a series of alleyways off the main road in the Mangoes, and there are many people from both sides of the community who have never been up there. When we arrived, who was there but the egg man, selling his wears up there. I quietly heard the Holy Spirit whisper, "Don't ask about the produce. Just say hi." Ok. As we walked by, I said "HEY!!" and kept walking. I could see on his face he didn't know what to do...I could see he was still torn about giving away produce that could earn him money...But I walked no more than 5 steps when he called out to me. I turned around to see him filling a bag with papayas and mangoes. Full. Catching up with the ladies, I handed the bag to Seidy. She was surprised, yet I could see gratitude in her eyes. I explained that I KNEW the Lord was pleased with her for showing His Kingdom to Jason and Chino. This act of generosity had not gone unnoticed by the Father. She was a faithful steward of what He had given her. He wanted to return the favor in a way the guys couldn't. A blessing for a blessing. Goosebumps.

When we are diligent to pay attention, there is SO much the Holy Spirit wants to do and so many he wants to bless, often in simple, ordinary ways!! The egg man got a pair of glasses, Jason and Chino got breakfast, Seidy got fresh fruit, and I got to witness the Holy Spirit lavishing His love on His people.

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