Thursday, October 29, 2015

“It's likely that every day presents an opportunity for you to practice radical hospitality to someone with whom you cross paths.” ― Thom Schultz

The other day, on an impulse, I gave about $5 to each of our inside worker ladies and told them they could only spend the money on new shoes for themselves.  They squealed, jumped up and down, hugged me, and asked God’s blessings for me.  Now they are both well-paid, and we give them clothes and other things.  I have also bought shoes for their children (about once every six months or so), but I have never gotten a reaction like that.  Today, one came in wearing a huge smile and her new shoes and the other brought her new ones in a sack to show me because they were just going to be used for church.  It just never occurred to me that they always take care of their families first and almost never spend any money on themselves.  That small gift (and it was small) was huge in their eyes because they got to buy something just for themselves.  You’d have thought that their reaction would have made me very happy but quite the reverse.  I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of doing that more often.  I buy new wet-weather boots for the outside workers on a regular basis because they get used up, and, while they always show me the new “gumboots” they bought, they don’t get as excited as the ladies did.  You would think that someone with my multiple degreed education and number of years I have lived would have realized a lot earlier how much these women have been sacrificing for their children.  School isn’t free here, and not only are there school fees to pay (we have been doing that), there are also uniforms to buy and school supplies to provide.  We know they have been feeding the children better because we can see the results when we see the children.  We also know that all our workers are eating better because all have put on weight since they have been working for us (I do try to set a good example of weight gain for them).  It’s just that with all we do, sometimes we miss the smallest of things that have great impact on the lives of the people here.  Now, I am going to be doing some research, very quietly, to see what other things I’ve been missing that could make their lives richer.  We have given every one of them watches (thanks to friends of mine sending me watches to give away), put biosand water filters in each of their homes, and John is working to install solar lights in each home one by one.  So far, we have equipped Edina and Francis and Rachel is just waiting for the equipment to get here and then she will have solar, too.  Everyone who works here including the teachers have watches, shoes, filters if they want them, and by March of next year, they should all have solar lights in their homes.  We have gotten each one health insurance with laminated photo id’s that they use often in addition to our paying all of their social security without docking their pay at all.  Still, who’d a thought that an inexpensive (for me anyway) pair of shoes would have made such a difference.  After over eleven years here, I still have so much to learn about how to love my neighbors.  Maybe you could look around and find some ways to love your neighbors that would brighten their lives as well as yours.  Read in a book somewhere that it is a good thing to love your neighbors.  I’ve seen it in real life, and it works.
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