For almost 15 years now, my family has worked with the desperately poor, in rural villages in Honduras. I like to think my eyes are open to the needs and the problems, if not the solutions, related to the economic situation in Honduras. When visitors arrive, and exclaim over the level of poverty they see here, I nod my head sadly - because, of course, I've seen it.
But recently, our family hired a young woman to help with the cooking and housework. Most missionaries do hire help - it is seen as both a tool to allow the missionaries to concentrate on the work they are sent to do and also valuable employment to individuals in the community. Additionally, the missionary family benefits from the interaction with a speaker of the local language. We already employ a group of regular workers, men who have learned valuable skills while building bridges and water projects with us, and who are currently working with us in the coffee fields. But I've been reluctant to have household help . . . it's too personal for this hermit, having someone working right.in.the.house.
Recently, though, I gave in to the inevitable (I posted about this here), and hired a helper. I've had friends praying for this need, and then for the transition - mostly because, while I knew it was necessary, I was dreading it! I've been so grateful for the prayer support - and am delighted to report that things are going swimmingly! I really like my new household helper - not only is she hardworking, but she's also pleasant company, and she's fond of my menagerie of animals - which is huge when you consider how much extra work they create for her! We are already forming a friendship which transcends the differences in our ages (she's the same age as my oldest daughter), our communications difficulties, and so many other aspects of our lives. Either of us will stop at a moment's notice to share something with the other - a joke, a serious story, something silly one of the animals is doing, a beautiful view, an interesting bug, etc.
But, there has been another thing that has happened, with her arrival into my house. It's not unexpected, but somehow I managed to be surprised by it again . . .suddenly, poverty has entered my house. No longer can I sit back and view poverty as a problem to be addressed on a large scale. Now, it has a name and a face; dreams and aspirations. Poverty wonders how to make life better for her children. Poverty has a sweet attitude, and a brave smile, in spite of setbacks. Poverty is my sister in Christ.