Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Second to Least of These

ImageThis is Queen Shalon (named Shalon, nicknamed Queen). She is the least of these. She is young, uneducated, poor, and was abandoned by mad parents as a baby, left on the side of the road at night.

Because Queen Shalon now has a sponsor, she will be attending school with us in January! As I was going around visiting sponsored children’s families, I was blessed to meet the family who found Shalon on the side of the road that night, and took her in to be their own, which quickly became legal as authorities found out more about the situation. “She is ours – fully ours,” her new family told me with pride. Queen Shalon’s mother is an older woman, and her other children are mostly grown, all good big brothers and big sisters to little Queen Shalon. Her mother kept praising God for the opportunity for Queen to get schooling. She had tried to enroll her in school once before, but after two weeks ran out of money for the government school (there is no free education) and Queen Shalon was sent home, devastated. Sitting there in a house with sheets for doors and benches as the only furniture, lit by a candle because there is no electricity, I sat in amazement listening to Shalon’s mother tell us what a blessing we are to Queen Shalon. Because Shalon’s mother is perhaps not the least of these, but most definitely the second to least of these, and here she is sharing her little resources selflessly with this little girl. Who has been the biggest blessing to Queen Shalon, the least of these? It is her mother, the second to least of these. This is who stepped up to do the job, and this is incredible.

As Queen Shalon was sitting curled up on my lap (she was the most affectionate girl I’ve found since I’ve bee here), I noticed some burn scars on the side of her head. And then her arm. Her mother sadly informed me that she has had those since she was found. As she instructed Queen Shalon to lift up her shirt for me to see, much of the right side of her tiny body has bad burn marks. These grow as she grows, and sometimes wake her up in the night from burning and itching. Her mother also lovingly recommended that we teach her to write with her left hand, because the burns have affected her nerves. As I asked what she meant, Queen Shalon stuck out her right hand and tried to extend it fully, but is unable to make her fingers straight. In this moment, I wanted to cry. How could this most precious creature have been treated so abominably in her past? What has she done to deserve this? And the truth is, nothing. There is sin in our world and not even the cutest most innocent of children is spared. But it made it all the more touching to me that this mother would take in this child, slightly deformed and with obvious problems. This is not another “worker” for the house. This is true selflessness. This woman, let me tell you, is more filled with God than me or any missionary I have met. God has chosen the second to least of these to serve the least. May his name be praised.

We are a chain. I have been blessed to have been taken in and been given nice meals by other missionaries who have more resources and better living conditions than me. They serve me, who is less, and I serve Queen Shalon’s mother, who is less, and she serves Queen Shalon, who is the least. Everyone has a place and a role.  And in the serving, we ALL become less that Jesus might become MORE – more evident, more glorified, more praised. 

Jesus doesn’t take no crap from nobody, not even a missionary.

I have found myself complaining more than usual the last few days, and I think it has to do with the fact that the electricity has gone out every single evening for the whole evening for the last two weeks.  And so I sat in the dark (since there’s no electricity), in the cold (since there’s no heating/AC unit), in the rain (because it’s rainy season), building a fire (since there’s no stove or oven) to reheat some beans for dinner (since the food I cooked yesterday and was saving for today was eaten by someone…) and I asked God, “Is it really just too much to ask for some electricity?”

And Jesus, trusty mediator between God and man, answered me this: “Yes. That is in fact too much to ask.” He continued, “I recall sacrificing living in a place way more glorious than the United states to live 33 years without a single day of electricity.  Which means just like for you, preparing my food took forever over a fire, with smoke getting in my eyes all the way. It means just like for you, there were some times I was thirsty and there was no clean water to drink and no quick solution to the problem. It means just like you, the day is shot by 6 pm when the sun went down. And just like you, it means no easy solution for being hot or being cold. And in case you were wondering, yes, we had mud everywhere too in rainy seasons. I gave all of this up because the time and place that the Father felt was appropriate to send me to redeem you of your sins did not have such luxuries, and so it was indeed TOO MUCH TO ASK for any of them. Get over it. Because your neighbors are all doing the same thing as you, just like my neighbors were all in the same boat as me. So get over it. Because I don’t recall having hot tea from a kettle when the electricity DOES come on in the morning. I don’t recall occasionally blow drying my hair or having nearly perfect weather all the time or a mosquito net to protect me from disease and insects. I think I blessed you with those things, though, didn’t I? I also don’t recall having a laptop, and being able to access the world wide web from my bedroom. In fact, I also did not have a telephone to instantly connect me to friends and family. And the taxis you complain about waiting for? Yeah, ours looked a lot more like donkeys. So the next time you want to complain to me about all the things you don’t have, you just remember you’re preaching to the choir. So you sit boiling your clean drinking water over your fire and be grateful I created fire for you at all.”

Jesus doesn’t take no crap from nobody, not even a missionary. And that’s my favorite thing about him. So in my evening prayers tonight I know what I’m thanking God for- fire.