My heart finds its way to the students and women I’ve encountered. I remember the Sunday spent at the secondary school, early in the morning… students packed in the dust filled school building with the only light shining from the windows and doors. The students sing and dance and as they worship it is as though they offer their whole body to the Lord. They shout and sway, stomp their feet and move to the beat of the drum. They gather every Sunday to worship our Father. Gratitude fills my heart at the opportunity to speak and pour into these hungry hearts. This Sunday they enter into the building clinging tightly to beautifully wrapped, bright colored gifts of all shapes and sizes. They have brought gifts for their prayer partners. My heart swells during the exchange as the whole assembly sings as each bring their gift to the front. Bashful smiles and sweet looks fill the faces of the students as they hand their blessings over to each other. I imagine the thought and sacrifice that each gift required. Some had verses covering the metallic wrapping and you could sense the silent pride that each person had in preparing such a wonderful present. An exchange of sacrifices for the enjoyment of one another.
My mind wanders to the faces of the FAITH women that fill our office every Sunday. I recall the tiresome day where all I wanted was to melt into my bed and forget my current exhaust and hunger. Instead, I found myself with these women after a long day of speaking to the students and attending service. My heart began to be strengthened, just by sitting with them. As I looked into their tough, yet tender and sweet faces, I realized the inner strength that each one must posses to fight the stigma and physical exhaust of being declared HIV positive. Gratitude fills my heart as we work through our study of Jesus as God the Son. Their questions and requests are honest and sincere. “Why is it important that I read the Bible if I store the word in my heart during service?”, “Can God forgive us since we’re HIV positive?”, “tell us about purgatory and why the Catholic Scripture is different from the Holy Bible…” At that moment I want nothing more than to be with those women, discovering the depth and riches of Christ Jesus together. We end our meeting and they gift me and Julia with green peppers, spinach and eggs. I can’t comprehend such gifts. These women and students give from their lack with an abundance of joy. There is nothing more beautiful than learning from these brave and generous souls. Needless to say, I left that meeting asking for God’s forgiveness for my self-pitying attitude for being too tired and hungry.
These people have given me something to feast on every day.