and I imagine it always will be. Our neighbors, Johannes and Luise Schurer, have been serving in Haiti since the year I was born, and even they tell me they don’t have it figured out. What is the best response to those who come to our doors every day, asking for help?
This morning, a woman came to our house. I was coming home from somewhere, and Rob was already talking to her. She told Rob she had cholera and needed to go to the hospital. It was obvious to us that she didn’t currently have cholera but she was obviously weak and sick (and later on I realized that she might have been telling us she was weak because she was treated for cholera in the past.) We had never seen her before—she is not one of the “regulars” that comes asking for things. We agreed to write her a note stating we’d pay for a consultation and medication at the clinic near where we live. She asked us for a glass of water before she left and we obliged.
She returned later in the day, showing us the medication she received and thanking us. Then she asked for a little food. I agreed to give her some and went inside to get some of the manna packs we keep on hand for this purpose. After I handed her some food, she tells me she’s too weak to walk home (and it seemed to me that it was true) and asked for a little money for a motorcycle taxi. I agree to give her 5 Haitian dollars (63 cents US, if you are wondering) to get a taxi home. As I was going in the house to get the money she asks for another glass of water and I oblige again.
Up to this point, I have willingly and happily agreed to help her. I can say that in this instance I felt compassion for her and genuinely wanted to help her (which, I admit, is not always the case when I have visitors like this.)
As I hand her the money and drink, she shows me a picture of her one year old daughter. Then… she touches my clothes and asks me to give her some clothes. Seriously??!! I have to tell you, I got really annoyed with her at this point. I kindly told her that I already paid for her to see a doctor, medication, taxi ride home, and gave her food and water, and that was all the help I was going to give her today. So since I used the word “today” she asked if she could come back tomorrow. Arghhhh!!! I said no and just walked in the house.
Drew and Tessa were out there coloring and Drew comes in the house and says, “Mommy, the lady outside is asking if she can have a crayon for her daughter. Can me and Tessa give her one?” My heart said “Are you SERIOUS??!!” My mouth said, “Yes, Drew, you can each give her one. But that’s all. Mommy and Daddy have already helped her a whole lot today.”
I don’t have this all figured out and I doubt I ever will. There have been times where I know we have genuinely helped someone and times where helping just seems to bring them back time and time again lacking any kind of thankfulness for the help we give. I just want to show the love of Christ. We pray for wisdom for each circumstance we face.
What I realized today, is that my kids need to see the love of Christ in me in how I interact with the many people we see each day. I think they saw this today. They don’t need to see me saying yes to every person that comes asking. I know there have been times where they have seen me frustrated, unkind and annoyed. But they do need to see me deal with them gently and kindly. And with love.