A new stream of God’s abundant provision has recently been discovered through a large supermarket chain in the nearby city of La Ceiba – after several months of writing letters and waiting for responses, we now have an agreement with one of the locations to receive any surplus/damaged goods that for various reasons they are unable to sell. In the first few months of enjoying this agreement, we got a call every 3-6 weeks to come pick up a box or two of flour and toilet paper, but for some reason in this past week they have called us twice, and so two times in three days we brought home quite literally a truckbed full of goods for free.
Every time we receive a box, I exclaim to my husband Darwin, “It’s like Christmas!” because you never know what the boxes will hold. Just last week our truckbed held two-and-a-half boxes full of chocolate cookies, a couple boxes of flour and spaghetti noodles, quite a bit of canned food, a couple bars of soap, several containers of butter, some frozen French fries, and even a brand-new frying pan!
So last Thursday as I arrived home in our truck at 3:00pm after having picked up Gleny and Jason from their elementary school, I contemplated the still-closed boxes in the truckbed with weary excitement, wanting to rip into them to see what blessing they held but struggling through an already-too-long day that started around 5:00am after another night of not having slept a wink. I felt like all my nerves stood on end and that my head weighed more than the rest of my body.
Thankfully, several people who were just about the leave and head home came to help haul the boxes up the concrete steps into our dining room, and I followed behind, scheming through foggy thoughts exactly how I could manage with the least energy exertion possible the five hooligans who would be under my care until Darwin and our two eldest girls would get home that night around 7:30pm.
On days like I had last Thursday I often wish that my children had an “off” button or that they could be easily folded up and stored away in a dresser drawer for a few hours until I need them again. Unfortunately for weary parents, this is, of course, not the case, and thus I suddenly had five eager helpers who were just as excited to see what was in the mysterious boxes as I was (and had 684.92 questions, comments, and stories for me in the process), although in the back of my mind I contemplated starting the somewhat-intimidating task of sorting, lifting, storing, etc, the next day once I had hopefully slept a few hours.
But the Lord had other plans, and I’m so glad He did.
For some reason that is still unknown to me, I did, in fact, begin the gargantuan task of inspecting the blessed cargo and, not only that, but graciously solicited the help of Jason (8), Josselyn (10) and Gleny (11), while Josue (7) and Gabriela (6) played with brooms in the front yard. We spent the next couple hours making guesses about what would be in each box, carrying certain items to the pantry, storing others in bins, etc. There was so much food that it was quickly made clear to us that it was meant to be shared, thus we began classifying the food items according to what could be most useful to which neighbor of ours. My three assistants flitted around the kitchen literally aglow with joy – how sweet it is to discover (and then share!) God’s blessing alongside of your children! We made boxes for several neighbors, my assistants constantly eager to help think out which goods should go to which families and place (and then re-place and re-organize) the goods in the boxes so that they fit just right. We talked giddily about how God never leaves the giver without something to give, and that if we have in abundance (or in scarcity!), what we have is meant to be shared. It was never ours to begin with; we are but the little administrators of God’s provision, allowing goods to flow through our hands and lives like crystalline spring water!
It was one of those blessed afternoons where everything seems to ‘click;’ all our gears are moving in synchrony and we all ‘get it.’ God’s presence among us was palpable and His joy undeniable. Gleny made a comment about how she has noticed that our town of El Pino is growing in the Lord’s favor, and Josselyn talked through a big smile of how thankful she is that God has enabled us to continue blessing others.
Well, we couldn’t stop there! I went to write “God’s blessing for Mr. Mejia” in big bold permanent marker on the outside of one of the boxes, but Gleny interrupted the simple process and informed me that she wanted to do it. Although that involved helping her spell it out correctly (and then turning the box around and starting over when she messed up), it was worth it.
The next step was handing the boxes over – delivering the blessing that was never ours to keep! We laughed and worked in teams of two to hold the boxes as we shuffled across our large front yard, out the gate, and over to the small house on our property that is now home to four of our students (all siblings) and their parents, the father of which fills the role of night watchman.
Once we finished handing the two boxes over to our watchman’s family (the father looked somewhat betwixt as to why anyone would be so giddy about giving food away), we returned home feeling light and joyful, although we were a bit sad the process of giving seemed to be temporarily over. The other boxes would stay in our kitchen because they were for people who would be coming to our home the next morning, except…Mr. Mejia! It seemed utterly ridiculous due to my off-the-charts exhaustion after the lunacy of sleeping 2-3 hours one night and none the next, and so on, but it seemed to be the only thing that made sense. Our neighbor Mr. Mejia, a man in his 70s who is a pillar of faith in our community and frequents our Wednesday-afternoon Bible study, lives alone in what looks to be an abandoned half-constructed building about a 10-15 minute walk away, so I raised my eyebrows and asked my eager collaborators what they thought of an early evening walk through hungry mosquitos and possibly falling rain to drop off Mr. Mejia’s box of blessing.
They all squealed with excitement and asked if we could invite our neighbors (the watchman’s four children who are students in our school and are at our house so often that they have come to form part of our extended family) for the big event. I said yes, and so off we went – 9 kids and I quite literally skipping off down the overgrown, isolated trail in The Middle of Nowhere, Central America from our property to Mr. Mejia’s. The kids reached his house by doing various foot races while two or three people took turns hauling the box on the top of their heads. When we finally got to his house, his two thin dogs started barking like crazy at the end of their chains as we called out from just beyond his front gate to see if he was home.
It had not really occurred to me that he might not be home to receive the box, but that was, in fact, the exact situation we were facing. We shrugged disappointedly and looked at one another as I posed the honest question: “What do we do? Does anyone have any ideas?” At first our four young neighbors looked slightly shocked that an adult was actually asking for their opinion, but quickly enough various people threw out different options, each of which got vetoed by the group. Leave the box outside of his gate? No, because the food would get wet in the rain or someone would walk by and steal it. Come back tomorrow? No, because we are impatient and want to deliver it today.
Then Marina, our 15-year-old neighbor who is in 3rd grade in our school, shrugged innocently, pointed to the little twig-and-twine waist-high front gate that was already falling over and struck us all with her (evil? benevolent?) genius, “…We could just walk in and leave the box in his kitchen [which is an outdoor table under a roof made of palm leaves].”
I looked at the young faces all around me, pondering the absurdity of breaking and entering…and blessing. I said, “Well, um, uh…go quickly! Just Marina. Drop it off and come right back.”
So she opened the simple latch on the gate, carried the box through, took a couple dozen steps, dropped off the box, exited and closed the gate, and we were gone from the scene in less than a minute.
From there the foot races joyously continued as barefoot children — who, whether they understand it or not, just participated in the holy act of administering God’s provision to the poorest of the poor — darted off along the lonely rocky trail toward our property in what, to many, seems like a cursed corner of the earth where nothing good can happen.
My heart – and by all visible accounts, those of the children – overflowed, bubbled even, with a heavenly lightness, a joy that cannot be purchased or chased down. I laughed at the wisdom of God: in a neighborhood literally moaning from so many robberies, murders, broken families, and general confusion and chaos, the King of Kings utilized the unlikely, absurd, ridiculous: a young woman who 10 years ago didn’t have the slightest idea of who Jesus Christ was along with a band of young hooligans, many of which are illiterate and all of which are barefoot, traipsing through the jungle bathed in a heavenly glow to fulfill God’s will in perhaps the most unlikely of contexts. That is our God: light in the darkness, giving in a land of taking, a Kingdom destined for those who become like little children.
May Your Kingdom come, may Your will be done on earth as it in in heaven…