|Yesterday I entered the town hall of a Naviyago village surrounded by sugar cane fields. Some women from the YWAM base where we are volunteering run a weekly single mother's group. If this type of thing were to happen in California, it wouldn't look like yesterday. There were women with two or three teeth in their mouths, 75-year-olds and 30 year olds sitting on a pandanu leaf woven mat with a few infants at breast and toddlers walking around. In fact, single mothers is a term that includes widows with dependant children of any age, grandmothers raising grandchildren, and women whose husbands are often away working, as well as those whose husbands have left or died.|
As far as I could tell there was no agenda. Sara, one of the YWAM leaders asked myself and two other new women to the group to share something with the ladies. I introduced myself, Rena introduced herself and then Leda introduced herself and preached a mini-sermon. Then it was over, or at least that's what they said. But really it meant that it was time for us to eat the cakey rolls spread with margarine, and the fresh roti rolled with coconut cream, and drink the tea and juice the ladies had made us. I was confused. What was the purpose of this meeting?
Kamba, the YWAMer who lives in this village answered my question later. These women work all day long in the homes caring for their disabled grown children or their grandchildren or their children. To leave and sit together and meet "strangers" is large moment in the drudgery of their every day lives. To sit and visit and have people to encourage their faith in God is a gift.
While sitting and munching, I remembered the gallon-sized ziploc bags in the back of the minivan outside. Two years ago our Bible study had packed these homeless care bags to give away to street people in Santa Cruz. Soon after, we left on our boat journey bringing 10 of the bags with us. Never used, I decided to bring them along to the women's group in case they could be of use. I noticed there were ten ladies present. Ding Ding, the bell went off in my head. I asked Kamba what she thought and went to get the bags. As I passed them out they were polite and excited and started to poke around inside. Each one held a bottle of water, a dish cloth, a granola bar, a bar of soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, small daily devotional booklet, and bandaids. They wanted to know if the water was from the U.S.A. When I said yes, some of them wouldn't drink it. They wanted it as a souvenir from America.
YWAM has been working with this village for some time. They have brough health workers to talk to the women about reproductive cycles, HIV. Also, they have had classes in flower arranging, baking (saves money not to buy store bought bread), and other topics.
It was a joy to be with them and humbling to eat the treats they shared out of their almost nothing.