A couple of weeks ago I got a call to help a friend that needed a ride to San Bernadino to pick up her daughter at camp. A bee sting on the foot caused an allergic reaction and she needed to come home early and have a doctor check it. This mother-daughter family doesn't own a car, nor a driver's license and even though our language of choice is different, we decided to make the best of our 2 hour drive by practicing each other's native tongue.
I took Spanish in middle school and I am marginally ok with nouns, but verbs or other words that connect nouns into meaningful communication...not so much. And though she is taking lessons, I think she would say the same about her English attempts. But we are women so we couldn't be in the car for more than 1/2 block before we would have to engage in some communication...blame the estrogen, women just need to talk.
D got that little navigation gadget for xmas and it was in my glove box and I remembered it had a language setting, sometime after I tried to tell her that Burbank was a city, a street & an airport because I guess its really important to totally confuse someone with the English language while they are still trying to pronounce Burbank. Anyway, I pulled GPS and yes while driving in traffic, I set it up so she could see our journey and track the progress. I set it to hear the voice and with each instruction she heard in Spanish, I ask her what it was in English. We got the giggles off and on when she would be trying to tell me and the offramp or freeway or street was coming up really soon and I would say "ondelay!!!" (yes I know that is barely even phonetically right, but middle school was a LONG time ago.)
During the few quiet times in our conversations I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that I had the time that day to drop whatever paintbrush I was holding and be able to take her. I felt so privileged and humbled that she had someone call me. That somehow even though we see each other only a few times a year, and our language barriers make it difficult to have any real heart-to-hearts, she has come to trust me and actually accept help when she needs it. I was also very aware that I was driving this sweet woman, who had only about 5 hangers worth of clothes in her closet the last time she showed me around, in my "more-than-a-mode of transportation" style of car.
She seemed so completely unaware of our differences. From the first time I met her, on the verge of homelessness, she would say "muy contente" with the most precious smile. She knows our material lives are far from similar, the responsibility to manage what she owns and make decisions about where to spend her income probably takes very little time or concern. Her hours at the maid service have been cut by about 25-30%, but that report comes with a smile, not fear, and certainly with no expectations for help. She just believes. Faith...God will provide and take care of them, just as he has all along.
So the longer we drove and talked, the more she reported all the wonderful things that God has done for them and continues to do for them. One blessing after another, complete with a recent miraculous healing of her arm from an injury she suffered slipping on the ice as a teenager.
We were able to find the camp and pick up one of the sweetest girl's I will ever meet, her daughter. We heard a camper's report most of the way home, but one story brought me to tears.
After the bee sting on day #2 at camp, it was obvious that a sever reaction was taking place and that there would be no walking on this foot. Another girl from their church appointed herself, best friend, nurse, run-and-get, and a stick-right-to-her attendant. As it turns out, the two girls knew each other before they went to camp.
Then I heard the story of how she earned her way to camp. Selling cookies. Now I know kids sell cookies for scouts and prepackaged cookie dough and candy bars in fundraising assortment boxes. This child, made cookies at home, put them on paper plates and sold them to people at church. Not a table set up, but just walking around selling home make cookies by the plate. Camp cost $150.00 and she earned all her money in 2 days! The story included this line "God was so good to multiply her money and help her that it only took 2 days".
I am so spoiled. So spoiled and yet I lack. The more we have the less we need. The less we need, the less we see all that God does in our lives. This family just celebrates from one blessing to the next. Never doubting, always seeing, so impressed and excited with all God does around them. And my heart begins to grieve for all that I have missed. All the stuff that gets in the way of my need to depend on a God that has promised to supply and fulfilled every promise, yet I see my own efforts or the balance in my checkbook, or the more-than-transportation car in the garage. What have I missed?
My tears spilled and I think they both thought I was just a little bit crazy when I choked out "Having little is a blessing. A place that God's hand is so obvious. Having much masks Him." He is not masked, but things and comfort muddies my perspective and I think I have missed out. Living in faith to the extent that they must, would be difficult for me I know, but the joy they experience as they see God care for them, and are thrilled every day by His gifts and creativity, that kind of joy is worth a prayer for clearer vision.
So two women, different lives, different languages...and the one who thought she was taking care of the other by driving the distance, ends up getting the better gift that day. A chance to see a huge God in the lives of a tiny family. And the tendency now to remember to pray for better vision...
Isaiah 41:20 "so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.
Two decades later
12 hours ago