A week ago HELP International partnered with a Peruvian woman named Gladys for a coat drive at the Quinde mall in Cajamarca. All week we had volunteers collecting coats, sweaters, and blankets from 4 – 9 PM. Reaching out to by passers was much easier for our fluent Spanish speaking volunteers, as communicative outreach to strangers required thorough elaborations detailing our efforts.
Reaching out to people and asking for their generous donations was not easy with my developing Spanish vocabulary. Many moments left me frustrated and uncomfortable with continuing my efforts. I became the designated candy guy repeating “dulce gratis” (free candy) to children in attempts to engage with their parents about donating.
Feelings of uselessness came over me. A reoccurring thought continued to ruminate in my mind which said, “handing candy out was for the incapable”. The day ended with my confidence low and my blood pressure high. No additional thanks to the KFC I indulged in to counter my self pity.
Today came the time to donate every blanket and article of clothing. My heart was hardened upon waking up this morning. Self-centered thoughts invaded my internal mental dialogues. The donating process seemed like a mere water droplet in an Olympic sized swimming pool regarding the bigger poverty related issues these people face.
The drive up towards Babellom de Combayo was on a long and bumpy road which winded every way as we scaled many hills. My selfish thoughts were persistent in convincing me that it was a lost cause giving clothes and blankets to people who contribute so little to society. This mindset made me feel like a spoiled, privileged, and covetous man. It seemed as if every thought I had was centered on what else I could be doing instead of riding in a hot bus for a four hour round trip.
The Lord knew these thoughts of mine. He had the perfect plan to soften this hardened heart and break the bonding chains of entitlement.
The weather was windy, rainy, and cold as we arrived to Babellom de Combayo. Two men, three woman, seven children, a newborn baby, and a donkey met us by the road. These people were all smiles, and seemed so happy that we were there. They had all walked many miles over hills and streams from their isolated village to meet us.
We began unloading the bagged clothing and blankets for these people. I took out a smaller blanket and wrapped it around an adorable little girl who looked very cold. We talked, took pictures, and enjoyed one another’s company for about 15 minutes. The next occurrence which happened I did not anticipate.
A blind boy who rode in on a donkey came to the middle of our circle and began singing. He sang with such gratitude and soul. This child held no bitterness due to his blindness. In this moment I looked into the eyes of the precious, bundled-up newborn and realized that anyone of these good people could have been me. My hardened heart broke.
Tears flowed from both eyes as the blind boy serenaded us with his beautiful harmony. I didn’t choose to be born a privileged white male from the United States. The source from all that I have has been provided by a loving and generous God. How humbled I am to be one who has never had to experience the consistent manifestations of poverty. There is no room for complaining in my life.
We Americans are rich by materialism, and thus impoverished in a spiritual sense. The natives of Babellom de Combayo have it contrary. They’re content, grateful, and full of love. God bless those people. Their expressions of hope and grace have blessed my heart and soul. May this blog, to you, be an extension of that spiritual enrichment. Glory to Jesus for that experience.
Stay blessed. Be thankful. Love others