We hiked up a steep, dirt-laden path. A path that would threaten to be a wrecking grounds for homes alongside it in the event of massive amounts of rain. The sun was beating down on our necks. Beads of sweat were racing down our faces. We made a few stops along the way to talk to some skeptical, yet incredibly hospitable people. We finally made it to the tiptop of the hillside. We approached a home built with corrugated tin and distressed wood. A fire crackled nearby as it assumed the ever-important job of preparing another lunch of rice and beans. We saw a woman, possibly in her early 30s. She smiled and cautiously welcomed us unknown visitors to her home. Her name was Susanna. She shared that she is the mother of four children. We heard a baby crying for her momma. She scooped up her 1 year old and brought her out of the house on her hip. She sucked her fingers and held her momma tight, very unsure of whom we were. Her clothes were covered in dirt. Her underwear stained with days, if not weeks of waste. We continued in conversation and shared with her our women’s ministry opportunity at the church later that afternoon. She nodded and told us she would be there. “Yeah right…” I thought. In America most people say what you want to hear but do not always follow through. I ashamedly doubted I would ever see her again.
We hiked back down the hill and made our way to the church. This woman and her family bombarding my thoughts. I kept thinking about Liam…his clean clothes. Diapers we’re extremely blessed to have. The wonderful Johnson and Johnson’s baby smell he has when he gets out of the bathtub…ya know, the bath he takes almost every night. My eyes began to sting and well up with tears. “Why, Lord? Why does she have this life and I have mine? Why does her baby sit in her filth and mine is usually clean? Why?” I thought. Those questions still come to mind every now and then. I’m completely undeserving of the life I live.
We made it to the church for lunch. Her face popped into my mind once again…Her and her sweet baby with dark brown eyes I could get lost in. They stayed on my mind for hours. Finally, it was time for women’s ministry. I was thrilled to see around 70 women show up to do crafts with us and hear about their value in Jesus Christ. The room was filled, and I looked up to see sweet Susanna with her baby girl. She truly meant what she said…SHE CAME. My heart felt as though it would burst out of my chest. This woman I thought about all morning…the one whom my momma heart ached for…SHE CAME!
I couldn’t really communicate with her because she spoke Spanish, but we managed to communicate with broken Spanish and hand gestures. The women all took t-shirt scraps we brought and braided them into beautiful headbands, bracelets, scarves, and even belts. All of them were smiling and excited about their creations. They took pride in their work and enjoyed time with other women, while other members of our team were caring for their children. The message of their worth in Christ and the beauty of working together in the community rang in their ears. Susanna was smiling. A big, beautiful, toothy smile. She created a headband for her sweet baby girl. She finally had something to take pride in and gift to her baby. She thanked us, hugged us, and went on her way. Back up the steep dirt-laden hill to her house.
Susanna doesn’t even know it, but that day she touched my heart. I realized even more the huge heart of Jesus. That He loves Susanna like He loves me. Just because I have the life I do doesn’t mean He loves me any more than her. It doesn’t mean He didn’t die for her as much as He did for me. He loves us both the same. He adores us both. He longs for a relationship with us both. He DIED for us both. He blesses us both. We are both undeserving of His grace, yet He freely offers it to us BOTH. Susanna’s sweet smile filled me with joy. Her circumstances are not ideal but she chooses to find joy in it anyway. She takes pride in her role as momma. She made me smile, and I still can’t get her off my mind.
And just like THAT my life, my perspective of others, and my love for the nations would never be the same.
“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” Romans 10:12-13 (Emphasis added)