This is yet another post that is extremely difficult to write and at this point I don’t know if I will actually publish it. I have been ruminating about these things for days now, trying to process everything and I am really struggling with it all. Writing is for me a way to process and sort through my thoughts…so for what it is worth….
This past Friday was my day out. The day I was allowed out of the house based on my ID number. As usual I walked. This was going to be the year I finally got over my fear of driving in this country. But with our car being so unreliable, we never know when it will break down especially if it has to idle for too long while waiting in line to get into Walmart for example. A friend has kindly offered me her car…but again fear gets in the way…even though this would be the perfect time to start.
I have mentioned before that we live about a twenty minute walk to the Walmart and Pricesmart. We have to pass under a bridge where there is a police checkpoint, where the police check your ID and make sure you are following the rules. However as I neared the bridge I saw something new. Families holding large cardboard signs asking for help because they are hungry. My heart! I didn’t feel right about giving them cash…and at the same time if I did have food on me at the time, how does a person give to one family and not the other? So even though I saw them, I continued walking, but my heart was in pieces.
I continued on to Pricesmart. I didn’t have a lot of cash on me. Only enough to purchase what I thought we needed. Only what I thought I could carry home. I knew I would need to make another trip out later on, because unlike the week before, there were no produce stands that day on the sidewalks.
As I neared the entrance to my neighborhood there was a family that I am aquainted with standing there by the road with their cardboard signs asking for help. They live in the small wooden structures on the hill beside our neighborhood. I have talked with a few of them while out for my walk. I have joked with some of the women about being super strong while they carry large buckets on their heads with no hands, to collect water because they have no running water in their homes. I sadly do not know any of their names but any of our communication has always been friendly. Recently I asked one young mom how many people live on that hill, and she told me there are actually twenty five people who live there. All family. Dale and I have given them food when we felt in our hearts to do so. Even so, seeing some of them standing there, asking for help…how could I just walk past when I have relationship with them? How could I simply smile and acknowledge them, wish them a good morning and then do nothing while my arms are loaded down with healthy food? I thought of that verse in James.
James 2;14-16 What good is it dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ” Good-bye and have a good day! Stay warm and eat well,” but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So, I shared with them some of my groceries. Although honestly with twenty five people I am not sure how much it actually would have helped. Yet they were so grateful.
Then with a heavy heart, I began the walk up the hill home and literally cried the whole way. I felt so broken. I couldn’t stop crying for a long time after. It just felt unbearable. I felt challenged in so many ways. There is so much need all around us. People who normally work to feed their families who can work no longer, because the virus shut everything down…people’s livelihood, their only means of supporting their families. I don’t believe that people would be out there asking for help if they didn’t need it. Can you imagine how humbling it must be? And yes there have always been those who have asked for help in this city…but not in our area and times are different now..there is way more need. More hunger.
We have been able to help out at different times when we have been made aware of specific needs…but in a way I guess it is different when you are face to face with it, when you are standing but a few feet away and looking into their eyes.
Later on I asked one of the guards about that family on the hill. I told him I worried about them having enough food. He did tell me that they are receiving help from the military…but that there were 11 children that live there. Eleven little kids!
I felt challenged because I have posted or blogged about the ways that God has blessed us. Like the neighbour dropping off machateadas a couple times, or the fruit truck showing up at just the right time when we didn’t know how we were going to get food, or Dale being offered a ride home after the car broke down and the ice cream not melting. Or Dale finding the instant coffee so I could make a fancy whipped coffee drink.
Dale and I live in a safe neighborhood. Our home is comfortable. And even though there are times when things have been tight, we have never lacked for anything. We do feel blessed. And there is nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves. But in a way it feels a bit like privilege because I happened to be born in a different country. I have never known what it is like to stand on a street corner asking for food, I have never gone without food for days on end unless I was intentionally fasting. So I have felt a little guilty or frivalous posting about such things that may seem like a luxury when there are people who are desperately hungry. People who don’t even have beans and rice….
Psalm 9:18 But the needy will not be ignored forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed.