21 November 2019
Giving and Living Generously
Sitting in the living room of a foreign ambassador’s house in Guatemala City, I found my mind drifting away to another time, not too long ago, when I had been sitting in another stranger’s “living room”. The setting had been quite different, though. I had been working with a short-term mission team that had come to Potter’s House to spend a week building homes for families, just like the one we were visiting today.
Potter’s House carries out “prayer walks” which consist of rounds of home visits that last approximately 30 minutes each. During each visit, we spend time with the family and try to get to know them better so that we can share the gospel with them, encourage and pray for them.
The smiling face that had just welcomed us was Miriam’s who we later discovered was a widow and a mother to three children between the ages of 7 to 17. As soon as we came in, we were warmly embraced with hugs and kisses - a traditional greeting in Guatemalan culture.
Before our arrival, the family had prepared a sitting area that could fit all five of us. The seats available were made of empty buckets turned up-side down, an old tyre and the bed, which was the only bed the family owned.
Although the conditions of the home, the area it’s located in and even Miriam’s story could be discouraging for many, the time we spent with this family lifted up our spirits.
Generous With the Little
Miriam was able to share her life story: how she left school early to come to Guatemala City to work as a maid when she was only 11 years old; how she met her husband and together moved to a squatter settlement around the garbage dump where her husband worked, scavenging for trash that he could sell or recycle; and how she tragically lost him a few years ago due to violence.
All along, Miriam never complained about the circumstances that she had faced. Instead, often times she praised God for His mercy upon her life and for coming through for her and her children time after time, even while going through grief and scarcity. We talked about her faith and it became very clear that her faith in Jesus Christ was solid and this was the source of her joy and hospitality.
At the end of our visit and after having prayed for her, Miriam asked if she could pray for us, which, of course, we accepted! We had brought a bag of groceries to the family, in gratitude for their hospitality but, also, to help provide immediate relief to some of their most pressing needs.
The memory of what she did after we handed her the bag will forever stay with me: she asked if she could split the bag and give half to her neighbour who was also a single mother struggling to put food on the table. She said: “God is blessing me with this gift and I want to honour Him with it, so I will share it with someone else who is in need”.
Miriam gave her neighbour half of what she herself had received. Not that she didn’t need it all but that she saw a need in someone else and responded in generous, costly giving. She gave in gratitude, not from what she could spare but from what she had received.
That day, we witnessed the transforming power of the gospel in Miriam’s life. By watching her give sacrificially, we were convicted and challenged to live a little more like she does: giving – and living – generously.
Laura Mazariegos serves with the Potter’s House Association (PHA) in Guatemala City and is a good friend of WorldShare. You can find more information about our partnership with PHA by clicking here.