God provides experiences for a reason
(As a senior auditor for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Sister of Providence Deborah Campbell regularly visits countries outside the United States. Recently, she spent time on assignment in Malawi, in southeast Africa. She sent this account of her conversations with the IT technician at the CRS office, which began an incredible exchange.)
The IT technician in Malawi is a wonderful young man named Joy, and he was aptly named having been born on Christmas! During the course of our conversations, he told me about his family, his village, and growing up with barely anything. He recounts how he walked about 10 km to school every day and did not have his first pair of shoes until he was 14, and they were plastic!
His village still has no electricity or running water. They have no light once the sun goes down because they cannot afford candles or oil for lamps. The diet of the people in the village is primarily vegetables. They cannot afford rice, so that is a delicacy for Christmastime only if the family has been able to save a few pennies throughout the year to allow them to purchase some. Meat is rare as well, and, again, if possible, a small piece is purchased for Christmas dinner. The few bites that each receives is greatly relished.
While sharing these details and others which would take too long to put in this blog post, Joy is not complaining. He is simply sharing his journey. He says he had a very happy childhood and can rattle off many ways in which God has blessed him. He has a very pleasant countenance and always has a smile on his face.
It is impossible to convey the humility I felt when talking to this young man. His wisdom by far out measures mine, despite the fact that I am twice his age.
After listening to him, I decided to use some of the money I receive from CRS for meals and incidentals while traveling to purchase a few things for Joy to take to the village when he visited at Christmas. I purchased some rice and sugar (his suggestion) and gave him some cash, as well. He promised in return to send pictures and to ask the people to pray for me.
Joy is an example of why I continue to choose this ministry. I meet people like him on every trip. The details of their stories are a little different, but the struggles are real. Their faith is real, and their love of God is also very real.
They continue to show me how blessed I am, and at the same time, how it is possible to live with almost nothing. God is providing these experiences to me for a reason. I hope I am able to discern His purpose so that His efforts do not go to waste.
(See tomorrow’s blog post for Joy’s account of his Christmas visit to his village.)