This week has been super eye opening for me. I love being totally immersed in a new culture and learning all of their habits and ways. It is also quite a dose of reality to see life in this part of the world. The other day, we were in the street going to catch a bus to head home from Almuerzo when a woman came running up to us with a small child. She asked if we were Mormons and then asked us to put her name in the temple as well as her mother´s. She looked very very tired and like she hadnt had the opportunity to shower in weeks. Both she and the child, who turned out to be her nephew, looked hungry and exhausted. They had no light in their eyes. Her shoes had holes and are not going to last very much longer. There clothes were dirty didnt fight right. She explained to us that she and her family had lost everything (she didnt say how) and that they were now living in a house that didnt ever merit the word. It has no door, no windows, and no floor. Every night they freeze and have to use each other to try and stay warm. They have no money and currently no hope of finding a job (the reason for which I do not know). She was 26 and the huge job of caring for her entire family including aunts and uncles and everyone had fallen to her. She was sobbing the entire time she was talking to us. It wasnt hard to tell that she had no hope of a future for herself or her the child which she now considers to be her´s. She told us that they had no food and didnt know what she was going to fill this boys belly with that day. All this had happened to her and all she was asking from us was to pray for her. She never once asked or money or help or anything. Just hope and love and prayers.
My companion comes from a similar situation. She once lived in a house just like that one when her father abandoned her family. Her family is very poor. She is 25 and out here on a mission because she worked for years and years to earn enough money to be here. This mission is something she truely treasures because she has worked so hard to be here. She was able to relate to and comfort this woman in the street where I was not. She looked her straight in the eyes and told her that she was prepared before this life with the strength she would need to get through this time. God knew what she would have to go through and he prepared her to be able to face it. She told her to have faith and hope and turn to God. When my companion told the woman this, she immediately stopped crying and got this amazing look of courage and stength on her face. She thanked us. Took the boy by the hand and walked away with determination in her step.
This experience made me stop and think like I never had before. What if I lost everything? What if every person in my family lost everything and it fell to me to take care of them all without money or food? I tried to imagine myself in her shoes, walking around the streets of a big city with Cooper (the boy was about his age) trying all I can to feed him and to find work that was enough to feed my family. Would I turn to God? Would I have the strength to actually do it or would I just sit down on a curb and cry? I don´t know. I don´t know but I know that this woman didn´t sit down and cry. She got up and kept going everyday. The entire time she was talking to us, I didn´t say one word. I just kept looking at the little boy´s face. He never smiled once.
When we got back to our apartment I sat and stared out the window for a very long time. I felt so ashamed of myself that I have ever complained about anything. I felt so selfish for never truely appreciating what I have been blessed with. I, all of us, have truely been blessed with the lives we have. We know where our next meal is coming from. We have a bed. We have a front door!! and windows!! How blessed we are. My companion could tell that I was being very pensive so she asked what was wrong. I told her and she, someone who has come from a similar situation and will return to it again in September, told me that I was giving people the biggest gift of all. I was giving them the gospel. I was giving them love and hope and light and faith. In that moment I wanted to give everyone in this country a home and food and a bed but she changed my perspective to something that is a lot more realistic. I dont have all the money in the world to change it but the amount of faith I have never runs out. I can share that with every single person and still have enough for myself. That in itself is a blessing.
So that is what I am going to do, I going to bring light to houses without windows. I am going to bring smiles to faces with frowns. I am going to fill the souls of people who have empty bellies and I am going to make the world a better place, one ounce of hope at a time. Pray for me that I might do a good Job.
I love you all!! I have some many more stories but not sufficient time or money in which to do it (These things are timed by the peso) so I will just have to tell you all about them when I get home. Much love is coming your way from the southern half of the world!!