MARBLES AND MONKEYS
I stayed in a little mud house complete with chickens, a dog named Canika (Marble), and a cat named Chongo (Monkey). The water came from a well and the food from an oven made of mud. We ground up corn through a hand cranked grinder for tortillas and had our fair share of several of those chickens in the house. It was an amazing week of slowly passing days and powerful nights in church services. I've been in remote villages throughout the world and this one seemed little different from any in India or east Africa and only ten hours south of Texas.
The simple and carefree people here seemed totally oblivious to the turmoil their nation is in right now. The conversations I heard in Matamoras of politics, kidnappings and corruption were nowhere to be heard in Oviedo. The old women talk about men, the young men talked about girls and everybody talked about the weather. There are places still left in this world where life is uncomplicated and slower. I love those places. It was five full days of seeing a side of life most of us have forgotten.
Since my preaching gigs were at night I spent the days trying to help around the house where I could. Mr. Jimenez had only a few possessions of any value he had acquired in his 75 years and his bed was one, which he gave to me for the week. So when he was doing work I wanted to help him. He didn’t really work hard but he stayed busy all day long, telling me stories I couldn’t understand and smiling the whole time. I laughed as if I knew what the heck he was talking about and he laughed because I was laughing.
I had arrived on Monday after a flight to McAllen and a long drive in the very back of a Ford Expedition with seven other missionaries. Only two spoke any English and I ran out of Spanish words within the first twenty minutes of the trip. That’s about the time I lost all feeling in my legs. When we arrived I promptly went into a coma and Tuesday I woke up to the sound of that grinding corn I was telling you about. My zoo breath was out of control and my hair looked liked Don King had a seizure.
When I stumbled out of my little sleeping place, scattering chickens along the way, I nearly bumped right into a young lady name Maria Ella. She was grinding corn and greeting me as I made an adventurous trip to the bano out back. She was just being her, doing what she does every day. She gets up in the morning and begins a route of doing things for the elderly in her village. She doesn’t get paid but you would never know it. She takes it upon herself to spend more than ten hours a days with various old people doing chores and being an incredible help. This is her ministry and she is 16 years old.
As the week went by I spent many hours with this amazing young lady. She never stops smiling and never stops working. She sings while she works and says funny things that make the old folks laugh. They kiss on her a lot and she hugs Mrs. Jimenez as if they were family. I was so impressed with her I began telling her about my sixteen year old son. “He’s single and a lot better looking than me,” I promised.
Her little brown face would turn bright red but all I could see was smile. What a selfless, amazing little girl she is. I was convicted all week and my heart just broke over how selfish I can be. Maria Ella preached a powerful sermon to me without ever speaking a word I could understand.
WHAT JESUS DOES
On the last night there, we had a conversation through a translator. “I see you taking care of everybody but who takes care of you?” I asked. Big tears ran down her face as she explained how she had fallen down a well several years ago and broken her hip. Her mom had taken a bus to the hospital she was recovering in and tragically died when the bus went off the side of a mountain. For four years, this little girl had lived without a single person in the house of her family.
“I know God loves me”, she said smiling through tears. “I go to see her again someday.”
I would never have dreamed this little girl had a body full of pain and a heart broken with tragedy. I was shocked to learn she was orphaned and alone. How could somebody with so little to work with, work so hard to make a difference in so many others lives? I knew the answer because I could see Him through every atom in her little body…JESUS.
I made it across the border and home in time for my Sunday sermon at Open Door. But I didn’t preach half as powerful a message as the life of precious Maria Ella.
Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.
St. Francis of Assisi