She came to our home one day about 3 months ago asking for anything we could give: clothes, food, a job she could help me with to earn a little bit of money. This wasn’t surprising; people come by our home every day asking for help of one kind or another. Because our God has been so radically generous with us, we feel called to give more than we feel like it…clothes, food, as many odd jobs here and there that we can think up, a kind word, a conversation, purchasing a handmade napkin while commenting on how beautiful it is…but this time was different for a reason I cannot explain. Brenda and I started to get to know each other. We became friends. Slowly, during the past 3 months, we have had more and more conversations. She cleans our home, and she does an amazing job. We pay her the going rate for housecleaning, and we give her food. We gave her a chance. In Mexico, you don’t have people clean your home without references. But how are you supposed to get references if no one gives you that first chance?
She’s given me a chance too…a precious gift of friendship. She comes on days she doesn’t clean and we talk. She tells me her story. Didn’t finish school beyond 6th grade because she had to take care of multiple younger siblings. Pregnant by 14 because that is the story in her neighborhood and her family. That is what she knows and what all the other women she has told me about do (sisters, cousins, friends, neighbors). Now, four children later, the money she makes cleaning for us is about all she gets each week. She lives in a home made of laminate sheeting. Her sister who lives there, too, is terrified the roof will fall down in rainstorms. Her brother is in jail. He gets out in December. And more…
What does she want? More than anything, she wants to be able to provide for her children. She wants her daughter to finish school. So she swallows her own pride and asks for help. She’s proud she has a regular job now. She brings her kids with her when she comes. I read them stories. Her family laughs because her 4 year old son has memorized Oso Pardo (Brown Bear, Brown Bear), but he repeats it with my accent!
Today, she came with her 8 year old daughter. We sat and had coffee and oatmeal cookies. We talked, and then she asked me about heaven and how it seems like heaven has to be where we all go when we die because hell is on earth. So we talked and talked about Jesus, about life, about what Jesus came to do…to give us life and life to the full. About God’s mercy. About our choice to believe in the King of Kings. We read Scripture. I gave her a Bible. She’s never read the Bible. She told me she’s never heard that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. She has more questions. If we believe God, if we follow Jesus, we have to believe that the most precious gift we possess and can give is the Gospel. The Good News that Jesus is Messiah and that God’s Kingdom is near, and that we can know God through His Son Jesus. That Jesus is life and peace and joy and hope. In situations where it seems hopeless, we have an everlasting hope. I believe that with all my heart. I also believe that we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I leave Guadalajara in 3 months.
I desperately pray for my friend. That she would believe. That her daughter would believe. That there would be a community of Jesus in her neighborhood to be the hands and feet of Jesus. That God would send more workers and that believers in Mexico would boldly share the Gospel with people who have never heard it clearly presented before. I also pray for wisdom. In terms of helping my friend economically, educationally, and practically, I am often at a loss. And a whole community of people like her? The community of Marquez de Leon where we will be starting a church/community center is full of similar stories. God gives wisdom to those who ask. We are looking at more training, specifically in how to help without hurting in poverty stricken areas, but we also (firstly) desperately need prayer for wisdom.
-From Pete and Emily Johnson, currently at language school and moving to La Paz this December.
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