Our first stop was to see Robert, an HIV+ double orphan who was left in his Auntie Elsa’s care while his grandmother went to do farm work. At first glance he looked quite healthy, shining eyes watching our every move above chubby cheeks. His auntie’s daughter, a wiggling two year old sat with us also. She was just a bit bigger than Robert so we assumed they were close in age. Several of us gasped, shocked and saddened to learn that tiny Robert was already six years old.
The gifts of mealie-meal, soya pieces, cooking oil, sugar and salt would not sustain Robert and his grandmother for long, but we pray that the words of encouragement we shared, and the love of Christ displayed have a longer lasting impact.
Our next stop was to visit Mary, a widow of thirty-one years who looked both younger and older at the same time. A double orphan, she married so young she cannot recall the age. Now her five children also know how it feels to lose a parent as their father was killed in a car accident. The man responsible for the accident provided just enough money for Mary to build her tiny home. When she is well enough she does piecework, but is rarely able to provide enough food for her family. She recently accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. We prayed with her and explained that the gifts of food and a jacket we left were just a small measure of His great love.
Our last stop brought us to the small home of a sixty year old widow named Joyce who was supporting herself and three of her eleven grandchildren with a small stand where she sold tiny dried fish called kapenta. She squealed and ululated joyously as we unpacked dried beans, kapenta, onions and cabbages for her to add to her stand to increase her sales potential, empowering her to take steps towards success and self-sustainability. Instead of needing to rely on the kindness of others, now Joyce herself would be able to provide for her family. She could not stop praising God for His love and miraculous provision, lifting her hands to give Him all the glory.
Her worship and adoration of our Lord and King was as refreshing as a cold cup of water to us weary but now filled servants who had simply followed His request.
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 25:40 NIV
names have been changed