As usual, we had another busy day planned for El Rosario. As much as we try to slow down and spend more time with each person we visit, it never seems long enough. On our first visit we dropped off 175 pairs of shoes to a pastor to distribute to outlaying villages. As we were talking to him, the couple we were going to visit next happened to be walking by. We invited them in and before you knew it, our schedule opened up.
We then stopped by to visit a single mom, Elvira, to check her new water filter. We helped her set it up a few days ago and this would be the very first day her family would be able to drink purified water. Ever. I have no doubt it will make a significant difference in their health.
As we were leaving, Elvira asked us if we had time to go with her to pray for a friend. As a matter of fact, we did! “Of course!” we answered.
She introduced us to Bernarda, who was also a single mom with 2 boys and a girl. Her older boy was at school and Edie was just hanging out. Her 16 year old daughter was getting water from the well and no longer goes to school. Most kids in El Rosario stop going after the 6th grade.
“Why aren’t you in school?” I asked Edie.
“I could only afford to send one to school this year. He’ll go next year.” Bernarda answered for him. (Public school tuition and supplies for the year is about $35.)
I just can’t imagine having to make that decision. We helped more than a dozen kids get to school this year. We asked around. “Are there any other children who are not at school?” It’s so frustrating. If we would have known.
Bernarda looked tired. She was in bed when we stopped by.
“How are you?” I asked.
“Good.” Her answer was more out of politeness than truth.
“Elvira asked if we could pray for you. Is there anything specific we can pray about?” I asked.
“Please pray for my children and pray that I will be able to pay for blood so I can have an operation.”
I’m sure my face must have shriveled up when she said that.
“WHAT?” I had no idea what she was talking about. What did she mean “pay for blood”?
She explained that not only did she have to find a blood donor but the donor had to be tested and cleared AND THEN they would have to agree on a price for their blood. As it turns out, she had two donors and had already paid one. She was now praying that she would be able to pay for the second.
Bernarda is so sick right now, she can’t work. Her daughter, who lives nearby, helps her with food but the truth is, her daughter doesn’t have enough to feed her own family.
“Bernarda.” My mind was spinning and I couldn’t get the right words out. “We love you. Jesus loves you. God called us here today to pay for your blood.” And as I spoke those words, I couldn’t help but think of the blood of Jesus, covering our sins.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
“We’ll pay for your blood but we want to pay for both of your boys to go to school next year.”
My 9 year old son Samuel took the day off school to be with me on Friday and so I took a few minutes to catch him up on what had just happened. That Bernarda was a single mom, that she couldn’t send one of her sons to school this year, that she had to have an operation, that she had to find TWO people to donate blood, THEN she had to pay for the blood and that she was too sick to work to pay for the blood. It was a lot to take in. I can’t imagine what Samuel was thinking.
“Samuel, we’re all going to pray for Bernarda right now. Would you pray first?” He looked up at me, with very sad and concerned 9 year old eyes and nodded yes. Samuel is our prayer warrior at home and he prayed from the very depth of his loving heart.
Before we left the States, we had more than one person share their concern for our kids. How could we take them from the comforts they were used to in the U.S. and subject them to the poverty of a 3rdworld country? On this day, my answer would be, “How could we not?”
Update: I spoke with Elvira tonight and she said that Bernarda had paid for the needed blood, Q150, which is $20 US. She is going in on Thursday to set her appointment at the National hospital which is free. But free comes at a price. She will have to wait and she will probably be squeezed into an already bursting hospital.
Please pray for that she gets the care she needs and that her operation goes smoothly. Please pray that she will recover and be able to continue to care for her children. Praise God that He cleared our schedule that day, that He was able to show Bernarda that He loves her, that He cares for her and that He hears her prayers.