I just returned from a third world country riddled with extreme poverty- the kind that sucks your breath from your body and causes a physical reaction.
I’m filled with smells and sights and stories I’ll never forget- not just from strangers, but friends. Friends like Annette, who live and work at Mercy House. She’s not an employee, she’s a sister.
I love this woman: Her quiet demeanor, beautiful smile, and talent for cooking! But her deep love for Christ doesn’t hide the pain in her eyes. The pain of loving and losing, the pain of leaving her children in her sister’s care so she can provide for them.
She takes two days a week off to go and see them. I handed her a bag with candy and small gifts. “Take these to your children. I’m sorry you have to leave them each week,” I said feeling so guilty as I watched mine play in the dirt nearby. Her eyes spilled with gratitude. “Please don’t feel bad. With this job, I am providing them a good life. They are happy. I can pay their school fees and much more … they can eat now.”
They can eat now.
Those words haunt me. I can’t help but think of my children, bellies round, full, when she speaks of hers. We are both mothers-different, yet the same. I gave her a deep, long hug, understanding her sacrifice. Recognizing her thankfulness.
I watched her walk away, home, her steps light.
We have five full time employees at Mercy House, plus a part time driver. Every one of them support many relatives with their salaries. Every one of them come from humble backgrounds we cannot fathom. They have known pain and suffering that could fill pages in a book.
And yet they all share the same: gratitude.
When I returned from Africa last year, I was riddled with guilt. I spent the next six months purging my life. And another six months responding to what I saw.
Friday night, when I walked thru my front door and the comfort of my home in America, I felt the opposite of guilt.
I felt innocence.
I felt the pureness of obeying God. The beauty of seeing His house of mercy being built on the other side of the world. The enrichment that comes from deep relationship. I saw hope in Africa.
I left with gratitude.
And that’s why I don’t feel guilty.
Good, amazing, news!!!! Our sweet residents accepted Jesus into their lives!