She has little to live on and visits our drop-in each week to get by. She comes also to our office for our two weekly ‘stop-ins’ to chat and have a cup of coffee. She is a lovely lady with a sweet disposition and a quiet, yet ever-present sense of humour. She is careful not to share her life story with too many. So when she speaks to you, you feel part of the privileged few.
Today, she tells me she is waiting to get a call from her Band to book a flight home. Two of her sisters are in the hospital. One is recovering; the second is dying. Her brother also has serious health issues that are beginning to take their toll. She herself is battling a type of cancer (she does not say which one) and is preparing for surgery very soon. She cries when I ask “how are you holding up?” She keeps her feelings bottled up and often comes in when she needs to talk or just to have a laugh. But she does so carefully, cautiously, not wanting to be thought of as ‘needy’ – her words. Given her family’s health issues, she chooses not to tell them that she has her own challenges. She does not want to burden them. Nor does she want to burden her son with this, at least not until ‘it becomes necessary.’
After we pray, I give her a devotional book to read called ‘Today’; she leaves smiling, wiping her tears.
A few minutes later, she asks to speak with me again. She comes to my cubicle saying ‘I knew I forgot something!’ She pulls out one of OIM’s brochures along with an ‘Automatic Funds Transfer’ form that she says she plans to fill out at her bank so that OIM can receive a monthly donation from her. ‘You all do so much for me and all of us, so I want to help.’ Moved, I thank her for her kindness.
Alone in my cubicle, I am left to contemplate this interaction. I stop everything to consider this woman, her current circumstances, her family’s health, her desire to protect her son…and, in the midst of all this, her incredible generosity.
I am brought to tears.
I am reminded of Jesus’ story of the poor widow’s meager offering in Mark 12:41-44. Objectively, the offering is little. Two small copper coins. But it is more than she can afford; and means far more because of the spirit of goodwill behind her deed.
Like the widow, this quiet, unassuming lady is an exceptional woman who does not let her difficulties quash her sense of compassion or her generosity of spirit. I may think I am here to help others, but Jesus often shows me otherwise. I am inspired.