Sunday, June 15, 2008

I Told Jesus I am Sorry

Today I went into town to stock up on supplies for the next month and a half. Due to the upcoming elections, it is becoming less and less wise to make the drive from our current location into the capital. Because the U.S. Dollar holds it’s value, I wait until shopping days to exchange money. Some things are really expensive (instant coffee was selling for $30...Frosted Flakes sold for about $15) but most things are similar in price (or less) to what they cost in the states - that is, if all the purchases are made on the same day the money is exchanged. I have budgeted out how much I can spend each time I come into the city. I exchange it - then I go shopping until I have no more Zim left.

At the second stop (out of four) I found quite a few useful things, I bought 10kgs of potatoes for around $5(I have eaten more potatoes in this last month than I did growing up in Idaho) ...I also found curry, fruit juice concentrate, a bit of meat (they even had bacon for a good price J), and a few other random items (At one of the stores I found live culture yogurt…I am going to use it to start making my own yogurt with powdered milk. I hope it works).

As I was putting all of my recently purchased items into the trunk of the car (already half full of other groceries), an old man, with grey hair and three missing teeth, came up to me. In a low mutter, He began to beg for money : “I need something to eat. I am starving. Please give me something.” Still muttering, He started walking right at me.” Please - something, anything.” It all happened so quick. I jumped into the passenger seat, looked Him in the eye, and told Him, “I am sorry.”

As we pulled away I could see the look of disappointment on His face. The words of Jesus suddenly came to mind:

He will put the sheep on his right but the goats on his left. "Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' "Then the righteous will say to him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you something to eat, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' The king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, in that you did it for one of the least important of these my brothers, you did it for me.'
(Mat 25:33-40)

How can I call myself a Christian when I don’t even have compassion towards Christ? Until I learn to give all I have to all who need - there is no place for me in the Kingdom of Heaven. The most difficult part of my time spent here is daily having to ask G-d show me how I am to be compassionate towards my Brother. I already know who my brother is - it is the 6 year old who has been diagnosed with HIV. It is the person who has been beaten for political beliefs. It is the person who is beating others because of political beliefs. It is the Sick. It is the Orphaned. It is the Children abandoned because of promiscuity. It is the young. It is the old. These are my Brothers and Sisters…this is my family.

But if a man has this world's goods, and sees that his brother is in need, and keeps his heart shut against his brother, how is it possible for the love of God to be in him? My little children, do not let our love be in word and in tongue, but let it be in act and in good faith. In this way we may be certain that we are true, and may give our heart comfort before him,
(1Jn 3:17-19)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Day on Her Head

Because of the economic situation, people don’t really hold on to their money for very long (The value of the Zim is less than ¼ of what it was when I arrived. The solution - print bigger bills). Part of it is very tragic - it is very hard for people to save up for anything beyond their basic needs. There is another aspect of it, however, that is beautiful…

Last Sunday the pastor preached a sermon in Shona. He would give the Scripture references and a few key points in English so we could follow along. He spoke primarily out of a section in Philippians 4:

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Yesterday I saw I woman carrying large bag of mielie meal (a very fine corn meal used to make Sadza) on her head. She probably had enough to last a family about a week. It was amazing to see her balance a bag that size on her head. A little kid was playing bora (ball), and kicked it to her. She, still balancing the bag on her head, kicked it back - then waited for him to pass it again.

Back at home I often find myself worrying about the next year…or four years….or ten years. Here in Zimbabwe I have often been reminded of a lifestyle that Jesus presented: “Give us today our daily bread.”

A few weeks ago I was talking to a Shona man. He was telling me about life in Zimbabwe and I was telling him about life in America. I tried to explain how some people in America trust in their wealth instead of G-d. I told of how it can be easy to ignore Him and ‘worship’ money. When I was done with my explanation, I asked if what I said made any sense. He quietly responded, “No - how can someone have everything they need and not thank G-d for it all? If I had all of that wealth I would thank G-d for blessing me.”

Every morning Mother Teresa , one of my heroes, would start the day with this prayer:
“Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow men, who are living and dieing throughout the world in poverty and hunger. Give them, through our hands, this day their daily bread, and by our understanding Love, give Peace and Joy.”

I have seen many women carry their daily food on their heads. I hope that I can, now and when I return home, be content with my daily bread. I must learn to let tomorrow worry about tomorrow. As for now I must only carry today.