Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How Poverty, Potatoes, and Pure Joy Leaves Me Pondering

My girl is on my lap and my husband is at my side and our pastor is telling the congregation all about his trip to Kenya and Burundi.

He shares the joy he experienced as he preached the gospel and hearts responded to the call of God, the exciting times of churches being planted and believers being baptized by the dozens in Africa and he speaks of the joy they have even though they have absolutely nothing, but they have the Lord and that is more than enough and he challenges us by saying that their faith is bigger than ours and they know that God will provide!

He shares pictures of churches and says he doesn't remember the name of the church but he remembers the people.

He shares some of their stories. One man who provides for his family of four on only $40.00 a month. A woman who wondered why he has such a small family with only four children and he laughs when he relates the rest of the story of when he asked her how many children she has and she told him fourteen!

Then it's the pictures of the slums and my heart breaks. He shows a picture* of sweet children and they are smiling and then he tells the children in the congregation to remember to pray for these children because they don't have a dad or mom.

Lastly, the orphaned girls who have been rescued from the slum. And they are in need of a building and some land to build one on. These girls, they were naked and had no food and were being used in ways no woman should ever be used. He tells us they range in age from 13-25 and that they all have at least one child. My heart says, 'No. No way. Please no. My own daughter will turn 13 in a few short months.'

I'm not naive. I've heard this before. But, my heart breaks afresh and I choke back the tears and I want to do something for these children and these daughters.

And he shares a video of one of these girls.  In broken English she talks about how she has lived in the slum and had to find her food in the dump and she would sleep outside in a sack and the mosquitoes would bite, but she knows God will help her and she looks straight into the camera and says God will help you too.

The last slide on the Powerpoint leaves us with these words:

We sit here in Canada and we can give resources, but it doesn't seem enough.

My heart says we have to do more. I'm just not sure exactly what that is. But, I tell God, 'Whatever you want me to do, show me.'

Hours later, we are about to start a simple meal of Shepherd's Pie for supper. We pull out the bag of potatoes from the cupboard and reach in and find a couple of small, wizened up, rotting potatoes. We either need to come up with a different plan for supper or go get some more potatoes.

I remember the field. We happen to live in potatoe country and right near our home is a potato farmer's field that was just harvested. The locals glean in the field. My husband and kids and a neighbour kid or two make the short trek across the road ready to find dinner.

I stay at home to brown the beef but never get to it and just as I head back to the kitchen to heat up the frying pan I hear three calls of: "Mom! Look what I found!" My kids pour in with their buckets full and bags breaking and tucked in their arms and they surely have a more than a sack of potatoes.

The littlest one rushes in first; straight in the front door with her sun hat on, her purple sandals, and the dress she wore to church all excited about the little treasures she dug up. She spills them all out right there on the front hall mat and barely leaves room for her sister to squeeze in the door with her big red bucket. Their brother comes in the back door with I'm sure as much sand in between his toes as in the field he just came back from with his Dad. All the bags they took are full. Everyone agreed they better take the wagon next time!

My husband tells me about how adorable it was to watch our little "Ruth gleaning in the field". And my 12 year old daughter admits to me she didn't like the dirt in her Birks so she went barefoot instead. My son, of coarse, pulls potatoes out of his pockets.

We throw supper together and we sit at the table and amidst the conversation and complaining, the laughter and loudness, I wonder about it all.

And I don't know how to make sense of it. How we have so much here in this country. We are not in want of good food. We don't glean in dumps like the people in the slums in Kenya. Our children still have their parents and our daughter is not sleeping outside in a sack on stinkin' sludge and being used in ways I never even want to imagine for any daughter.

The pastor, he says they have joy. Yes, that man who sells shoes in the slum and supports his family on $40.00 a month laughs with joyful confidence that God will provide for them. The woman holding her sleeping child next to her bosom tells us that God will help us.

My heart aches, what are we to do?

How can we live here in abundance with anxiety and there they live in poverty with pure joy.

This isn't just about a pot of potatoes.

This is about people living in poverty and souls starving for God.

And I wonder which country is really the poorer of the two.

*used with permission

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