"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. We worked day and night in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you." 1 Thessalonians 2:8-9

This blog is much more than our family and our crazy antics. After being overseas in Haiti for 4 years we prayed about coming back to the States and just still felt like God was going to use our family overseas...so here we go again. The big move to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and now the school growing and moving to Barbados. We just can't seem to rest until our family can love as many as we can to relationships with Christ. We always feel so blessed to meet the many people we get to serve with overseas, and of course love that you are reading with us as we serve in a new culture!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why do they always give me things?

"Mommy, why does everyone that visits always give me things?"  asked my 5 year old daughter when a recent group member brought her a toy to have.  By no means does she not want the toy they brought her, but she has noticed that every person that visits comes bearing gifts.  And it challenged me.

As a missionary overseas for 5 years now, I do notice every time a visitor or groups comes, they come bearing gifts.  It's a treat and one I am sure every missionary is grateful for.  They come from hearts of love.  And my answer to my daughter of  "They love you" can't work as she says,  "But we don't even know them. "  So I answer, "And they want to help.  They are sharing what they have and want to share with you."  She accepts that answer and is excited to play with her new toy. 

It makes me think of the countless faces I have seen receive gifts from strangers when they visit.  Just this past week a visiting group handed out bouncy balls to our community kids.  You could see the excitement, lit up eyes, and eager hands to grab theirs.  I know where some of these kids live and how they live without most everything but their families, clothes on their back, and a tin roof over their head.  And I can see now why they expect when a group is here to get something fun.  I see better now why every time we are in a home here we are asked for money to get food or gas for a generator if they have one. 

White skin here often makes people see wealth and affluence.  I can't tell you the number of times we are asked for things, even our stroller has been begged for.  Anywhere we walk in a 2 mile radius we can stop and talk to someone and they can tell us where we live down to the house.  I can recall how Brice had been taking his lunch hour to meet with a man who had denounced giving up his job (if you call it that or else crime) of burglary and handed over his mask to Brice.  I remember telling Brice to meet the guy away from our house, so if he went back to that profession, he would not know where we lived to hit us next.  Of course he already knew where one of the few white families lived in our area without us pointing it out to him.  On one hand it is nice to know people know where to find you when they need you and what you are about and doing here.  On the other hand, sometimes constantly being begged for things can be hard and downright disheartening.

My own daughter can see the pattern that when a visitor comes, they usually will bring something for her.  By no means, am I trying to brag or expect this, it just happens.  If anything, I loved the initial idea of my kids being missionary kids to have less and focus more on sharing with others.  Who knew I would be fighting the battle of my daughter being indulged because we do this?  So, if my family sees this, it is no wonder people with less beg and expect.  When we see them we want to help and give, and they see this and after a pattern, they come to expect too.

The hard part - realizing that saying no is okay and for the best, even though it is so hard.  Helping them learn to help themselves and others encourages them.   For instance, rather than giving them the money we are so often asked for, we are trying to give them a job or a way to support themselves.  We don't always do this, sometimes we have done money, but we are learning.  Even this man that promised to give up his burglary profession for a nice pair of clothes to start going to church, we have yet to see.  But as we live in this, we begin to see.  Rather than just handing out gifts to our community kids who need things, we encourage them to make things and help pick family fruits/vegetables to share that we and others can buy to help them.  Or for the grandma who can't afford to send her son to school next year, we are excited to have her son come to our preschool next year and in return she can help serve at the preschool.

It seems simple and yet makes me see all over why people expect handouts.  Though, we are away from politics...I often hear complaints over the handouts the government gives in the United States.  And I can't help but think if we all abided my these principles of not just giving, but encouraging for all to valued to help.  It truly is better to give than to receive.  So can we teach those who are so poor they have only received that they can give too?  I think so.  Even in the States when I was involved in homeless ministry just handing out food every week was okay, but when we had them each helping and one of them cutting hair  for all and another playing music for all to enjoy, they felt encouraged and that they could offer something.  I love seeing faces light up when they realize how gifted each of us are.  And we all are, God made us that way!

So I guess what is in your bag to hand out does not matter as much as what you come to share with your words and your hearts to encourage them.

2 comments:

  1. Great post Amanda - thanks for sharing your thoughts and heart. Praying for you all.

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  2. I have encounter the same thing in my travels. I have come to realize the problem this can bring in a different cultures that we are not familiar with. Two good books on the subject is Steve Saints " The Great Omission" and Glenn Schwartz's, “When Charity Destroys Dignity”

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