He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD

-proverbs 19:17

Let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good . . . —1 Peter 4:19

“Choosing to suffer means that there must be something wrong with you, but choosing God’s will— even if it means you will suffer— is something very different. No normal, healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he simply chooses God’s will.”

~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

across Lake Nahuel Huapi from Bariloche

My blood pressure still hovers slightly above normal. It comes down, then goes back up. The human body, they say, is a funny thing.

Most of our ministries have been put on hold. Our illnesses have forced us to take a break. Tony is still going to the boys’ home. But he comes home really down from all the things he sees. I run into the boys often around the neighborhood. That is, when I am feeling brave enough to leave the house. I have completely given up walking. If I go out, I drive. Even if it’s five blocks away. I don’t need to be bitten by any stray dogs. Trying to avoid any more problems, you know. God will just have to bring my blood pressure down without exercise.

The other day I walked into the Health Clinic, and there was Cris.

Hola!, como estas?! What are you doing here?

I seem to run into Cris everywhere. The last time was when I was out for a  walk (back when I walked; I don’t anymore), I saw him walking around the neighborhood with Esteban and one of the caretakers from the home. They were selling bread crumbs door to door to raise money to be able to take the boys out for an afternoon.

Cris is just adorable and, for all his issues, he can be quite sweet.

I had a dentist appointment, he tells me. I have a cavity.

Really? Let me see.

(He opens his mouth wide.)

He’s right – there it is: a huge, brown, gaping cavity in his unusually beautiful mouth of pearly whites.

Wow. So are they going to fix it?

Yeah, they gave me this medicine. He shows me a little box.

Oh. Well, that’s good. So, who are you with?

One of the tios; he’s over there, pointing.

Come sit with me while I wait, I say.

He does. We sit down on a bench.

So, what’s new?

So-and-so at the home raped Diego (not his real name). That’s what’s new, he tells me point blank, right there in the waiting room.

I look at him.

What?, is all I manage.

He raped him. [He actually uses a different word, one I won’t translate.] So they sent him to another boys’ home.

Who raped him??

He tells me. I’ve heard Tony mention the boy’s name before. I’ve never met him.

I sit there thinking.

How old is he, the one who did this? I manage to get out.


And Diego? [not his real name] How old is he?


I sit for a moment, aware that many people in the room could possibly have  heard the whole conversation if they had paid any sort of attention.

I ask him if he did anything to him.

No. No. Not me. No. I recall later how he didn’t look at my eyes. He looked down.

Good. You know that no one is ever allowed to do that kind of thing to you, you know that, right?

No, no. He didn’t do anything.

And you should tell someone immediately if they do, right?

He nods.

(I find out later that he is not telling me the whole truth. The rest of the story is quite disturbing. And not appropriate for public places.)

I sigh.

I call Tony right then and there from the waiting room, with Cris sitting next to me.

We chat for a minute. I pass the phone to Cris and they talk for a few moments. I can’t say anything while sitting there in that waiting room.

The nurse finally calls me in to take my blood pressure. I’m sure it can’t be normal after the story I just heard. It is. To my surprise it is finally normal after three weeks. But it goes back up. Then down. Up. Down. Up. Down.

I drive the six blocks home. I no longer walk; I refuse to walk. The last thing I need to add to my already too-full plate is a dog bite and rabies shots.

When I tell Tony, he is saddened, but not surprised. He saw it coming. He saw the signs. We wonders why they can’t protect the kids from these things. Maybe they can’t. Or won’t. Or don’t bother. Who knows. Just as much abuse seems to happen in some homes as in the situations that they were taken out of. What a mess. What a MESS.

More comfort food. I make Martha Stewart’s Lemon Cream Scones and read again Oswald Chambers,

He calleth . . . by name. — John 10:3

When I have sadly misunderstood Him?(John 10:17.) It is possible to know all about doctrine and yet not know Jesus. The soul is in danger when knowledge of doctrine outsteps intimate touch with Jesus. Why was Mary weeping? Doctrine was no more to Mary than the grass under her feet. Any Pharisee could have made a fool of Mary doctrinally, but one thing they could not ridicule out of her was the fact that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her…

Andean condor

Do I know Jesus? Huh. That is the million dollar question.

I Skype with my Mom. After eight months she finally gets the audio on her computer fixed and we can hear her! She says it all sounds so overwhelming… so unbelievable.

It is. Other worldly, really. Or maybe it’s just the world in general. The nitty-gritty dark places. The one in which over 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day.

People came to our door four or five times this week asking for food, for money. We know them all. A man came tonight while Tony was at the store. I told him I didn’t have any money, and we needed to go food shopping so, not much to spare, but if he wanted to wait until Tony came back…. He thanked me and waited. Tony talked to him, while I gave him one of the muffins I had just pulled out of the oven. He asked to borrow 100 pesos ($25); his new job doesn’t pay him until next week. Tony said he would help him and gave him the 100 pesos. I trust his judgement. He’s much better with people and a very good judge of character – sometimes he’s wrong, but rarely.

I went back inside and the kids asked if their dad had “helped that guy.” When I said yes, he gave him 100 pesos, my daughter said, “But what if he buys something with it he’s not supposed to?“. I reminded her how people have helped us, and God helps us and gives to us, so we should do the same to others in their need. That’s what Jesus tells us to do. We believe he will buy food with it, but if he doesn’t, that is between him and God. For what we know of him, we are pretty sure he will buy what he needs. But if he buys a bottle of wine too, well then, “Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more” ~Proverbs 31:7 — because I can guarantee anyone reading this right now would not want to trade places with him, have to peddle vegetables for a living, and live in the shack he lives in. He will die a poor man, chances are we won’t.

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to
the needy honors God. Proverbs 14:31

There is other good news, finally. Tony got a job. Just Saturdays and Sundays, but it’s something, and it helps a lot. We are very thankful. He has missed working at a “real job”. Me, too.

Tony with one of the boys from the home

Cris trying his hand

Esteban taking a shot

the only snow we received this winter. it was gone in a few hours.


4 thoughts on “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD

  1. This is a great post for all. The painful and heartbreaking story of what happened to the boy is something we all need to be aware of. The heartbreak also of what brought another young one to be violent in this way. As a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem, I have many cases with abuse such as this and it never ceases to make my skin chill when I open a new file. I ask God to not let me ever not feel a chill of despair for these cases when I work with them. Even right here in our own back yards, we have the poor and the hurting. The difference is, I know that I can go home, eat food, go to work and take my kids to their activities, and I plan my time each day and week for my “mission’. But you have chosen to live among the poor and hurting with little respite and provision for yourselves. I thank you for that, Chris.

    Here is a verse for you: Acts 20:35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”.

    • Thanks, Annie, and yes, I agree, you can have a mission where ever you are. But you are right in your observation, it IS different here. We can’t schedule it in so much, or get away from it, we LIVE here. It’s totally different in that way. It’s hard to get space from all the suffering, it’s just there 24/7. I think it’s awesome what you do – keep up the good work!

  2. This was so well written. It sounded like it was a chapter in the book that you are going to write someday. How sobering. Christian and I just sat here and read it together. (I read the posts when you write them and he reads them all at once to catch up every couple weeks). He commented on your choice of pictures at the beginning of the post. How interesting it was that the first focused on the weeds with the blurry mountains and the second on the mountains and the blurry weeds. We often ponder what it will be like when we don’t “see through the glass dimly, but then face to face.” Our friends lost their 14 year old only daughter to cancer a month ago and it is so incredibly hard for them and all of us. Why Lord? Fixing their eyes on what is unseen they continue to praise Him and not sink into the depths of despair. Oh for the day when it will all be clear and the Lord will set everything to right.

    Thankful that Tony got a job. Praying fervently for you.
    Much love.

    • Christy, I followed your friends’ story from her first post. I never realized you were neighbors and that she babysat your kids until you wrote about it. Her story deeply affected me, and although it sounds cliche’, it makes me value even more every day with my kids – especially here where everything seems the more fragile – health and faith and happiness and time is such a GIFT, not to be squandered. Every day I wake up I thank God for my life and my children’s lives and our health and just being able to see the sun again another day. It could all change at any moment, here or in the “safe” US. Thanks for your prayers – I know you and your family are praying for us and, sometimes, when the clouds open on whatever trial we are going through, we can tangibly feel them. Today’s a good day. Tomorrow may not be. We don’t take it for granted.

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