Author SAM DONHOWE
co/authored by Shari Tvrdik
It was Sunday evening and the service at the La Paz God With Us Church was almost over.
I was thinking about what the afternoon would hold for me when all of a sudden the Pastor mentioned my name:
“we have a donation of clothing and shoes that needs to be delivered next Saturday to a village near Puno (southern Peru). The village has been affected by heavy frost this winter. If anyone wants to sign up for a brief trip to send relief to these communities, please talk with Sam”.
I stood up and waved as if I knew what the pastor was talking about, while silently unsure of what was happening and not knowing what the Lord had in store for me.
I spent the next week coordinating the arrangements for the trip (with all the flaws of Bolivian logistics),
I found out a little more about the situation in the region that we were about to visit.
It was a precarious time for the people living there.
Livestock, mainly llamas, had died due to the frost. There were children and the elderly in these communities who had taken sick with pneumonia.
The following Saturday we gathered the small team of five Bolivians and two Peruvian volunteers. After a 7 hour uncomfortable van ride our team arrived to the village of Crucero, which lies three hours north of Lake Titicaca.
This was absolutely not where I had planned to be when I arrived to church six days ago a beautiful Sunday morning.
However, I was thankful for the unexpected.
As we began to hand out the medicine, Christian literature, shoes and clothing to the people, I was reminded of what I read in the Bible during my quiet time earlier that day.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25: 34-40
The scripture which had been simply in words read in the morning, became living letters to me that afternoon.
I looked for Jesus.
I should see Jesus in these people and care for them as if they were Jesus himself.
So many times I want to see Jesus in the important people but instead I must train my eyes to see Jesus in the needy and weary.
Perhaps we would run to these uncomfortable places,
to these hurting people,
if we truly believed His words.
Author HEATHER VELVET JOHNSON
Two or three times a month I wash my clothes
(I know, it’s embarrassing how infrequent).
The reason why I do it so seldom is
It’s a physical hassle
I’m suspicious of whether or not my clothes actually become cleaner.
My friend referred to our washing machine once as “the clothing agitator”
In America (or anywhere where there is running waters) most washing machines have a
wash, rinse, spin and drain cycle.
Here there are 15 minutes of agitation.
No rinse, no drain and “spin” is in a separate compartment that you manually have to transfer everything to.
Any rinsing has to be done manually in a separate bucket, though usually I just add a couple of scoops of water in before the spinning.
At the end the dirty water has to be drained and dumped into the toilet outside.
Because there isn’t any rinse cycle I feel that I’m just adding soap to dirt and mixing it around Adding a fresh laundry smell to still dirty clothes.
The funniest thing is that usually I think I do a fairly good job of washing…
Until I visit America.
Then I realize that my fresh smelling clothes don’t smell so fresh
(More like I rolled around at a petting zoo and then went to work at a coal mine),
And my white clothing isn’t quite so white as I thought it was In my 4 years in Mongolia God has put me through the “agitator," getting the dirt to fall out.
Sometimes I wonder, am I worse than I was before I came to Mongolia?
I’ve seen things come out of my heart that I never knew were inside.
But the thing is, all of it was already inside.
It just took Mongolia to “agitate” it out.
Like my clothes being shockingly dirtier than I thought
Inside my heart was also much worse than I thought.
Doing laundry in America, I don’t get the “privilege” to see how dirty my clothes really are.
I put them in the machine, close the door, and 45 minutes later open the door to clean clothes.
But here, I have to get my hands dirty, draining the murky water
Feeling its weight
Dumping it out.
In America, I had the same stuff inside, I just wasn’t in circumstances where I could get a close view of my true condition
So take heart.
When it seems like you are far worse than you could have imagined.
when it seems like you’re spinning in murky water
It might mean that the agitation is a cleansing process
Removing the dirt,
If I want my clothes to be especially clean, I have to put new water in for each cycle
I usually don’t and reuse the same water for 2 or 3 loads because it uses so much water and requires more work of draining and dumping.
And for us, if we really want to be healed of the muck inside
We will have to feel its weight
And dump it out
Away and UN-retrievable
Over and over again.
The final step is to hang my clothes up to dry
No dryer here except the sun
And sometimes after exhausting heart work, we too have to just wait
Wait and let the Son do the rest.
AUTHOR HEATHER JOHNSON
There is nothing quite like being an outsider.
The whispers that you can hear.
Each week I get my water from a well.
It's not a traditional well but a water station where a water truck comes several times a day to fill up the tank which is connected to a hose in which water is pumped into the containers, brought from people around the community.
It's next door so I shouldn't complain.
My heart soars on the days no one else is there.
No one else to see me ask the water station lady for the one-hundredth time, "Sorry how much is it again?" as she rolls her eyes at me.
But the days that is is crowded
I want to hide.
Sometimes I stare back.
I grin and boldly respond to their questions.
Other times (usually) I keep my head down wondering if perhaps they won't notice I am a foreigner,
I'm making it sound much worse than it is.
It's not so bad.
Often I have people come and help me out of the kindness of their hearts for the helpless white girl.
But each time I'm reminded of another woman at a different well thousands of years ago.
Before Mongolia I had understood the story of the woman at the well,
but now I can actually feel her embarrassment.
I know what it feels like to have your face turn bright red because you can hear what they are saying about you.
I understand why she would go in the heat of the day, to avoid her neighbors.
I remember how Jesus told her, "If you drink from my water, you will never be thirsty again."
And like the woman, I too would be thinking, " Yes! Now I will never have to haul these heavy containers again!"
Of course that is not the point that Jesus was making.
There is the dry heat of Israel
and the dry cold of Mongolia, but there is also the dryness of our hearts
when disappointment after disappointment comes and nothing seems to satisfy those
We have a common need.
True literal water and sustenance to keep us going.
Something (Some One) to keep us from dying of thirst,
to keep our souls from becoming parched.
Usually I hate being the one who’s different than everyone else.
But last week when my container got off balance and wasted water gushed all over the ground
I was happy.
Because, unlike the Mongolians would have been, I didn’t get scolded.
For me it was just more eye rolling and “poor foreigner, she has no idea what she’s doing.”
And they were right!
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