Several years ago, Eric and I were watching basketball after what had been a long day for both of us. I had tucked the girls in while Eric mowed the lawn. I was ready for a cozy evening watching the game with Eric, and was just getting settled in with my fuzzy blanket when I saw a tiny face peeking at me from the stairs. It was Abby. She wasn’t sure that I had seen her, so she just sat there perfectly still until I waved at her and motioned for her to come down. At that point she realized she truly had been spotted. She came down in her purple princess jammies, and I told her to hop up on the bed and snuggle with mom and watch basketball for 5 minutes before going back up to bed. She hopped up, and snuggled in for a minute, but if you know Abby, you know that she can only be quiet for so long before she needs to chat. So she turns to me and says, “Mommy, will you tell me a story about when you were a little girl in Peru?” Then she just smiled at me…waiting. Her tiny face gets me every time, so I said “OK” and tried to think of a story from my childhood that I had not yet told her. For some reason the following story came to mind tonight:
“When I was a little girl in Peru, there was a lady that we always picked up in our old blue Suburban and drove to church with us. She had 2 little boys. I remember that one time my sweet sister had decided that she wanted to give all of her saved up money to help this lady and her boys to get to go to church camp. Well, after that, this lady was so thankful that she said she wanted to have us come to her house for dessert. We knew that they were very poor and were just living on someone’s property- kind of watching over it to make sure it was occupied and that no one could come “squat” on it, but we had never been inside- behind the wall to see where she actually lived. Well, the day came, and we went over to her house.
Immediately, I noticed that first of all, there was no house on the property. It was more of a straw hut shaped like a box (like one in the picture above). Secondly, I noticed there was not a blade of grass on the property. It was just the light brown dust/dirt of the big Lima desert. We went into her “house” and she was so apologetic that she didn’t have more to offer us, but my parents assured her that this was just perfect and wonderful- to just enjoy this dessert together. She had made a pot of “mazamorra” on her little gas stove. It is a sort of warm, fruit gel dessert made from purple corn and pinneaple. It is hard to describe if you have not had it. Anyway, she was happy to let us know that we would all have our own bowls to eat it from because she had gone to some friends and borrowed some dishes to serve us on.”
At this point in the story, I just stopped and said, “Abby Rose…do you know how many dishes we have? I don’t even have space to put away my 4 new coke glasses that Nana gave me for my birthday .” I said, “What do you think that means?” She said, “It means we should give stuff to other people.” A while later, she went back up to bed as happy as a lark. I was the one left sitting there with a lump in my throat, fighting back tears. How do you forget something like that? How do I get caught up in this crazy rush of aquiring more and more stuff, and stockpiling it all…for what? It is so easy to forget what matters- what is beautiful to God. A heart that gives. A heart that swallows pride and invites the people you love to your home, even if it is a straw hut in the dirt. I have been able to do and see a lot of things in my life. And I have been able to try a lot of amazing foods, but I don’t think that I have ever had a more priceless dessert than the one we ate on borrowed bowls.