• June 14, 2013

“Christianity in its Purest Form” -
a mother’s testimonial

Emily with one of her friends
from her neighborhood

By Miriam Allen

My hus­band, Ross, and I recently vis­ited our daughter, Emily, on mis­sion with Heart’s Home in Villa Jardin, just out­side of Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was quickly amazed. It wasn’t quite the place of depravity I had expected to encounter in a “slum”. It was, of course, some­what dirty, smelly and lit­tered, but seemed to be quite full of life as we walked along. Children ran up to her to hold her hands and walk with us. The shop­keepers called out to her in the manner of old friends as we walked along the narrow street. She stopped to greet each of them with tra­di­tional pecks on the cheek and they chatted away in a lively manner in Spanish. I noted how Emily’s eyes sparkled as she greeted each of her neigh­bors and all of the neigh­bor­hood chil­dren. It took quite a while to reach her home, despite the short dis­tance we had to walk.

Upon our arrival at the Heart’s Home “home” I was again amazed. Inside this home in the “slums” was the most amazing group of people I have ever encoun­tered. This group con­sisted of two young men and three young women from dif­ferent nation­al­i­ties, who had each given up a con­sid­er­able por­tion of their life to live amongst the poor, to give them hope and love by their pres­ence and care. They were a living prayer to God in their everyday actions. I watched the chil­dren of the neigh­bor­hood coming and going in the house and I could tell they felt it was a good, safe place, free from the prob­lems of their own homes. I watched as the adults of the neigh­bor­hood inter­acted with the people of Heart’s Home, coming to the home to chat, some bringing little treats of food for these young people living amongst them. They, too, knew it was a good place, a pos­i­tive place with people willing to help them, to listen and under­stand.

One encounter that I remember most from our visit hap­pened in the main city of Buenos Aires. We were get­ting ready to catch a cab, when Emily exclaimed “That’s my friend in front of the church!” and across the street she (and we) went. Her friend turned out to be a man in a wheelchair. He had no legs and you could see that his teeth had rotted out of his gums when he smiled. His sweat­pants were soaked and he def­i­nitely had the odor of someone who could not care for him­self. To be quite honest, I felt repulsed by him and stood back, a few feet away. Emily, how­ever, obvi­ously didn’t see what I was seeing. She went up to him, gave him the tra­di­tional pecks on the cheek, and with eyes sparkling, chatted away with him for quite a while. He really enjoyed having someone to laugh and joke with. She didn’t seem to think that he was repul­sive, as most people would. She only saw him as a person. It was an amazing thing to see, and quite an inspi­ra­tion. It appeared to me, in ret­ro­spect, to be Christianity in its purest form: treating the least among us with com­pas­sion and love. It surely must be the greatest form of prayer. As we left Argentina, I told my daughter how proud I was of her and what she was doing, and I sin­cerely meant it.

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