22 February 2016

the heartbreaks continue.

One of the unintended consequences of living among extreme poverty is its tendency to produce a numbness to the plight of those around you, and the danger of no longer sympathizing with the reality of their life. But thankfully, our hearts continue to break.

Our neighbors in Mabatini live in very simple homes, most characterized by four concrete walls, a concrete floor and a tin roof. Still others live in mud-brick homes. Virtually all of them live day-to-day, doing whatever small work they can to earn - quite literally - their daily bread.

The same is true for the young women that we work with - be it the young mothers whom Michael works with at EBLI or the teenage girls of LULU Project where Ashley carries out her ministry. Most of these girls and young women come from very poor families and are struggling to survive with the headwinds of poverty blowing against them. Yet, even in our daily ministry, we can become numb to the reality of their situation and the challenges they face.

Thankfully, there are moments of clarity and awareness that come like a silent yet overwhelming rush of wind, prompted by nothing else but the shockingly ordinary people and events around us: standing outside the gate of our home looking at the faces of children splashing in the trash-congested river, conversing with neighbors as they enumerate their hardships providing for their family and begging for financial assistance, staring at the gorge in the middle of the road opened up by intense rainfall and wondering how many bags of sand we will have to fill to close up the ridges in order to enter and exit our home. All of these are embarrassingly normal, yet sometimes we are awakened from the slumber of normalcy and startled by the emotion of witnessing (if not living) such a life.

Most recently, Michael has been visiting the homes of every young mother currently studying computer literacy and soon to enter into his business skills training program. Such visits give us a chance to better connect with those around us as we enter into their humble yet overwhelmingly hospitable space: a tiny room, a dirt floor, a makeshift wooden stool, a second-hand mattress on the floor, light piercing the holes in the aluminum roof, the smell of a traditional charcoal stove filling the air, the contagious smile of joy from the family as they welcome us inside, and their desire to slaughter the proverbial fattened calf to celebrate the blessing of unexpected guests. And in that moment we realize the emptiness of material trappings and the pursuit of wealth, and the fullness of human relationship and the present moment. These are their faces, but their stories yet to be fully told or heard.

No comments:

Post a Comment