Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Light In The Darkness

Serving food at Casa Esperanza in El Salvador.  It's the Hope House in English and it's a homeless shelter/soup kitchen.

When we were in El Salvador, a lot of what we did was to visit what the Lutheran church is doing in that country.  One of the places we visited was Casa Esperanza, also known as the Hope House.  It's in a rough part of town and helps those who are homeless by giving them meals, medical care, teaching them skills and, when possible, giving them items to use for personal hygiene.

Maria Trinidad is a beautiful woman who has been through so much.  Two of her children were murdered, as was her husband.  Her husband and child were murdered by the government during the war and her one son was murdered by gangs about a year ago. 

She runs Casa Esperanza and also works at Casa Concordia (where the missionaries stay) and IS.  NOT.  PAID.  She is not paid for what she does running both houses (but this is a whole different blog post).  With her at Casa Esperanza are two German missionaries.  We sat down and spoke with them.  All three spoke about the hardships of keeping Casa Esperanza open and of the help of the churches that we all come from.

Helmut, the name of the German missionary said to us, "I would rather light a candle than complain about the darkness."

We had devotionals in the evening and, one of the first nights, the power went out and we had our devotional by candle light.  Our group decided to stick with the candles.  After Casa Esperanza, one of our members was talking about how hard it would be to be here and he felt at a loss about what he could do to help.

I know that feeling too.  How I feel like I should be there, how I feel that I am less loved because I live in America.  All the thoughts that I know aren't true, but that find their way into my thoughts anyway.

I thought about it for a moment and said, "Maybe it's not our job to light another candle, but maybe it's our job to help make their candle brighter."

I often find myself trapped by the idea that I am not doing enough.  In the end, none of us can ever do "enough."  And we are not saved by that "enough" either.  I always have liked the story of Zacchaeus.  Jesus loved Zacchaeus where he was and when Zacchaeus said that he would give half of his money to the poor, Jesus didn't say, "Come on, you know you could do better."  Jesus says that Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham.

We are one body in Christ and where would we be without all the parts?  I often forget these things and I find myself panicking, thinking that I am not worthy or worthwhile.  But generosity is a spiritual gift and that is something that I need to keep in mind.  In this time and this place, it is not my job to light another candle, but it is my job - and my honor - to help make someone else's candle burn brighter. 

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