The story I am about to tell you was actually written about in one of my earlier posts last summer, but it is one of my favorites and God has been using it lately to remind me of my purpose and that I am worth something.
Last summer, I was building in Acuña with a team from Indiana. It had been a rough week, not at all because of the team (they were great) but because of the weather. Hurricane Alex had hit the coast of Mexico and blew tons of rain into Acuña...so much that some teams were gathering rain water to pour their slabs because concrete trucks couldn't make it to the sites and there was no running water in the city. It was a hard build and I was exhausted. About halfway through the week the team decided to have a community night. They had brought boxes and boxes of clothes and shoes, so we set those out in the church courtyard and grilled hot dogs while people from all over the neighborhood came to pick out free clothes and have a hot meal.
As I was sitting in the corner talking with some other Casas leaders, I noticed an elderly woman lugging a black trash bag full of clothing in one hand while carrying two plates of hot dogs and chips in another. She started down the street and I got up to go ask if she needed help. She gladly accepted and I took the bag, which was in fact pretty heavy. We talked a little bit as we walked slowly towards her house.
When we got there she had me hold the hot dogs as she unlocked the pad lock on the piece of wood that served as a front door. We went inside and she told me to sit down and cool off, turning the small fan on and pointing it towards me, even though she herself probably could have used it more. She opened the trash bag and dumped all of the clothes into a box. As she arranged them how she wanted I looked around. She lived in a house like many families in that area, two rooms with a dirt floor, one small bed and one small chair, and a few old kitchen appliances.
She talked to me for just a little while, and at this point in the summer my brain was on Spanish overload, so I honestly only picked up a few things. I understood that her husband was abusive and she left but had nowhere to go. The house she was living in had been given to her by a friend and so she told me she got the hot dogs and clothes to give to her friend as a thank you.
She also told me she had diabetes and her feet hurt really bad all the time and sometimes they would bleed or wake her up in the middle of the night because of the pain.
After talking for a few minutes, she told me she had to get back to the church because she wanted to go to the service. She didn't have a fridge, so she put some foil over the hot dogs to keep the flies off and we headed out again.
Without anything to carry, I started off walking my normal pace, which is faster than most people. My best friend always gets peeved because I walk too fast. I didn't realize that my new friend was struggling to keep up until she said, "You walk really fast!" I apologized and slowed way down. She said, "With my diabetes I walk really slow." Then she paused for a second, looked down, and quietly said, "You have good feet for serving God."
I almost stopped dead in my tracks. Because that week I was feeling pretty worthless. I wasn't a builder. I was a shy, insecure girl from Kansas who at the beginning of that summer was terrified and had almost no confidence in myself, and sometimes even less in God. And this woman probably has no idea that I will remember that sentence for the rest of my life. Because through it God reminded me that he has a plan to use my life in some way.
Most of you from Kansas have heard of the Burnhams...Gracia and Martin. They are from a small town just outside Wichita, and they were missionaries to the Philippines. Several years ago they were celebrating their anniversary on one of the islands there when they were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf. They starved and struggled to survive in the jungle as prisoners for a year before Martin was killed in a gun battle, and Gracia was rescued shortly after. And I will always remember watching an interview with Gracia in which she said that she didn't understand why Martin died and she lived, because he was the strong one. And then she said through tears, "I am reminded that God uses the weak things." It is a heart-wrenching interview, which you can watch here.
God can use anyone to do his work. Whether you're young or old, weak or strong. And that is what I believe is amazing about our God.