Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dannette's Devotional

Wisdom from Mothers around the World
by Dannette McKellar

"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue . . .
 Her children arise and call her blessed . . ."
Proverbs 31:26, 28a

Mothers are full of wisdom. Whenever I brought a new boyfriend home, my mother told me, “He’s nice, but you can do better.” But when I brought Andy home, she said, “See, I always told you that you could do better!” Three decades later, I can say, “Mom, you were so wise.”

I learned much from my mother’s wisdom as I was growing up. More recently, I’ve learned from the wisdom of mothers around the world.

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
   and have no compassion on the child she has borne?

Though she may forget, I will not forget you."
Isaiah 49:15

Years ago, I had a warped view of sponsor children’s parents: Either they didn’t love their children, or they weren’t good providers. Our first Compassion Sponsor Tour shattered that image as I learned truths about poverty and visited with two special mothers.

During child visit day at the zoo, we met Yefy’s mother, Rosa. We couldn’t understand their mother-son conversations. But it didn’t take an interpreter to see the depth of Rosa’s love as she watched Yefry scamper from exhibit to exhibit, and as she helped him read the interpretive signs. We shared lunch at Pollo Campero, Guatemala’s famous fast food chain. Toward the end of our meal, I noticed Rosa, quietly wrapping leftover chicken in a napkin. I offered her my extra piece, which she gratefully accepted and stuffed into her purse with the others. I don’t know if Rosa wanted her family to share in Yefry’s special day or if she was providing for their basic needs. Either way, I sensed tremendous love in her actions.

On a different day, we visited homes of sponsored children. Oscar Emmanuel and Anna Maria led us along a narrow alleyway, zigzagging between tiny homes, crammed together. When we arrived at their dingy two-room home, their mother, Maria, welcomed us. Two beds, a dresser, and a small table filled their living area. The ceiling was a blue plastic tarp. Across the tiny outdoor courtyard was a kitchen, too small for more than two people to stand on the dirt floor. Sun streamed through gaps in the wooden walls and roof. In that setting, Maria mother shared about her difficult life: Abandoned by her husband, she cared for her three children and ailing mother, earning what she could by sewing and doing laundry. But she was filled with hope: She dreamed that her children would finish school and become professionals, earning a good living.

Rosa and Maria taught me that mothers in poverty are similar to the mothers I know here at home. They love their children greatly, and have hopes and dreams for their children’s futures.

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in 
Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

In South India, we also came face-to-face with poverty.  At one home, we crouched to enter the small doorway.  With no furniture, our group of eight sat on the dirt floor, filling the one-room house.  Sunlight filtered through the open doorway, dimly lighting the unpainted walls, while ants fell from the thatched roof above our heads.  In those dismal surroundings, the mother shared about her difficult life and how Jesus had blessed her through Compassion.  In addition to helping her baby, she had learned candle making and how to write her name.  Now she could sign contracts and join with other women in a candle making business.  She had even started setting aside a little money for the future.

   “What would you like us to pray for?”  With so many obvious needs, her answer amazed us: "Please pray that life would stay so good for me and my family."  By our standards, her life didn’t seem “so good.”  But this mother wasn’t focused on material things.  She knew how life had been before the church had reached out in love, and before she and her family had experienced the hope that comes from Jesus Christ.  That hope changed the world for her and her family. 

 Her example taught me that hope is more valuable than material blessings and to be more grateful for all God has given me.

". . . yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior."
Habakkuk 3:18

". . . the joy of the LORD is your strength."
Nehemiah 8:10b
I’ve never met anyone like Lilian, our sponsored student in Uganda. Lilian squealed with delight as she pulled the toothbrushes and tube of Crest from the backpack of gifts we brought to her. It didn’t matter that her household included 11 people and we brought only five toothbrushes (“the boys can share this one and ...”). She was as joyfully grateful for the inexpensive, practical gifts as she was for the study Bible and silver cross necklace we gave her.

Lilian’s smile and enthusiasm were so contagious it seemed as if she didn’t have a care in the world. No one would guess that she was balancing her full-time university studies with the responsibilities of being head of her household. She had become a mother without family support when relatives rejected her and her younger siblings after their mother had died. Her family had grown with her sister’s babies and again when they took in street children with nowhere else to live.

We were thrilled to reconnect with Lilian through email a few months after she graduated from Compassion’s Leadership Development Program. Still, it was heartbreaking to read about her struggles to find employment and support her household, even going without food at times. But in the midst of her desperation, each email reflected hope. She recently wrote, “But now I know we just have a little time on earth, so if we focus on life-threatening issues, we are losing it all. Come on let us be happy.”

Lilian taught me that being joyful gives me strength when life gets difficult.

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