by Mara W, on mission in Ecuador
Around the corner from us lives an elderly woman, Señora M, whom we affectionately call “la abuela” (the grandma). She lives with several family members in a one room house made of sugarcane, and is one of the poorest of our friends. Heart’s Home has had a special relationship with her for years; when her grandkids were small they came to play in the house with the missionaries, and now we check in on her often. Even though she lives with family, she is not well cared for and is in very poor health.
Whenever we enter her house, her face lights up with a big smile and she motions for us to sit down next to her. She’ll grasp my hand and straighten my shirt, happy to have the opportunity to show her love and appreciation. It’s humbling to realize how much our simple presence means to her; it’s evident that for la abuela, our visits remind her that she is someone; someone worth visiting.
Recently, I went with Leti to visit her after she returned from a long stay in the hospital, and we both were struck by the state she was in. Her hair had not been brushed in weeks and was dirty and matted, her mattress was soiled and wet, and she had nothing to eat.
Together we worked for 40 minutes to brush out and braid her hair. It was such a small thing – but it gave her back a little bit of her dignity. We moved her mattress outside to dry, and fixed her something to eat. We couldn’t completely change her situation, but we could bring some hope into it; we could remind her that she is worth more than her situation. We could only offer her what we have received through the mercy of God – his unconditional love. “We love because he first loved us.”
It is situations like these when I am especially grateful for the life of prayer that we have here in Heart’s Home. I know that even if I cannot change the situation of each suffering person and child here in our neighborhood, I can entrust them and their sufferings to the Lord in prayer. Our home is like a little oasis of peace, of prayer, of love, of hope, of friendship, smack dab in the middle of this neighborhood that at times seems to be a desert of suffering. What a gift it is to know that God hears our prayers.