Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I forgot...

...that I am living in one of the poorest countries in the world. Not just a "third world country". Mozambique is on the list of the 10 most poor countries. 

The "Bocaria", Maputo's garbage dump, where people live, and spend all day rummaging
through the trash that is dumped off in trucks like this one. And when they find something worth keeping or selling, they are thrilled!
I really think before I throw anything out, because I know it will be uncovered here.

An advertisement for witch doctor "medicine", labeling some of the sicknesses they promise to cure. Witch craft is so steeped into this country. The president of Mozambique has ceremonies for the witch doctors to "consecrate" new buildings with their rituals.

Mama and baby heading home from "grocery shopping".

Somehow, after living here for 3 years, it only just occurred to me yesterday, that I really live in a third world country, with the very poorest of people. Yes, I know they don't live like American's. I know they live in little one or two room grass huts or block houses. I know they are lucky to eat 2 meals a day, and there is a very large percent of unemployment. I know the average monthly salaray is about $50. 

But yesterday, it all just really hit me. I was walking home from visiting an old man in the community who I help look after. I had just shared a Bible story at his house to 5 little kids who had followed me there. Every time I walk in the community I have a group of "followers". There are about 30 of these sweet little kids (30 that know me) in the community behind our center, and when they see me, they come running, shouting, "E Malungu Mana Anna!" (It's the white mana Anna!!). On my walk home, I encountered several more of the children. Then I heard from behind a row of thorn bushes, "Mana Anna, come see what we are doing!" I came around to see. There were about 8 or 10 kids gathered around 2 very tiny cooking fires they had made with little twigs. And on these 2 miniature cooking fires they had cut a pop can in half, to be a cooking pot, and they were boiling the potato peelings from the potatoes their mothers were cooking on real fires for their dinner. They were pretending to be cooking dinner. These children were so excited to show me their play, and one of the mothers came over to greet me, and laugh with me at the fun these kids were having.

That's when it hit me. "Do these kids know they are the poorest of the poor? Do they know they are the ones on the bottom of the list? That they are considered hopeless?" 

Compassion is not feeling sorry for someone, it is having hope for them. When I see these happy kids, running around in filthy clothes that fit them 2 years ago and certainly don't now, clothes that are full of holes. When I see these dirty little bare feet, I can't see them as poor. Because I see their sparkling eyes, and I have such hope for them! The sweet little dirty hand that slips into mine and walks along beside me. The hungry hearts of kids who sit and feed off the story of Jesus calling the little children to come sit on his lap, because he loves them. The joy in their voices as they laugh and play, and say "Look! Here comes Mana Anna!" And when I must leave them, they say, "We will see you next time!" 

Oh, the love I have for these kids. This country is called the poorest of the poor. But to God, they are the richest of the rich. They are the ones with the most hope. They are the ones Jesus was talking about, when He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3


Erica said...

"Compassion is not feeling sorry for someone, it is having hope for them."

Wow. Such a simple statement, but very powerful. Thanks Anna.

Cathy said...

Oh Anna, your words have really touched my heart. I agree with Erica.

Megan said...

Thank you Anna! That is precisely what I have been feeling lately, and you put it into words for me!! Love you lots!