Feliz Navidad from Nicaragua!
Recently, I read a blog post by Anisha Hopkinson, a fellow missionary. She called it "The Banana Story." It immediately resonated with me and just at the right time. Her story... was a confession of how she was struggling with compassion fatigue. In her story she struggled with helping a neighbour who had no food and was banging on her gate at 8am asking for rice. Anisha writes...
"She dares to make eye contact and then quickly looks away. I am tired. I don’t want to establish a pattern of handouts. I’d rather give her work if I can, but even that can come with the expectation that I will help meet other needs as they arise. Besides, I don’t have any work for her this morning.
“It’s true.” I say, “Rice is expensive. I don’t have a lot, but I’ll fill a bag for you.” and begrudgingly turn towards the house."
"Why doesn’t she have family to help her? Why doesn’t her church step up? Why does she have to come to me? My thoughts fly."
“Wait, Sister.” She calls and I turn around. “I brought you these from our garden. Thank you for the rice.” Her daughter held out a bag with two small bunches of bananas.
The last 6 weeks or so, seem to have been filled with one crisis after another. A broken arm, a serious infection, a mis-carriage, an emergency operation and a birth have taken us to 5 different hospitals and confirmed why we drive an old ambulance.
Taxi's won't enter Nueva Vida after dark, it's too dangerous and some would struggle to find bus fare let alone pay for a taxi. We are called for other reasons though. They know us... and we know them.
Calls for help with food or medicine are usually "indirect" in nature to avoid "pena" (shame). But it doesn't take long to get to the truth that someone has had no food for a few days and is desperate... or is very sick and needs medicine.
During the torrential rains of November, rusty tin roofs leaked, dirt floors turned to mud and everything was so damp it was covered in a layer of the early fuzzy stages of penicillin.
The political crisis has sent the economy into a free fall. There are lots of new face's working in the dump... competing for less materials due to the recession.
Most... earning between 50-70 cordobas per day. 32 Cordobas = $1US.
Compassion fatigue is a real thing and it means just what you think. You can get tired, frustrated, resentful of the constant bombardment of needs.
Anisha's story continues...
"That morning I felt the resentment hit hard the moment I opened the gate to the shrinking figure in front of me. But accepting the bananas, I remembered a conversation I had with my seven year old son the very day before.
“Where does our money to live on come from?” my son asked.
“The generosity of our donors.” I told him, “Those are people who see what we are doing here and want to be a part of it. So they send us money from their earnings to help us be able to live here and help people. It’s really something quite special.”
Yet there I stood at my gate, angry at my neighbors need, frustrated at the idea of giving her my rice. The very rice I’d bought through the generosity of others.
It’s God’s rice, Anisha. The bananas remind me."
Thank God for Anisha's bananas... also the chickens, mangos or jewelry (from the dump) that we have received as gifts of deep gratitude that remind us of how His economy works.
It's God's ambulance... the chicken reminds us.
Every good and perfect gift comes from our Father above...
Freely we have received... why not freely give...
Merry Christmas Everyone!!
Love, Brent & Michelle