We got to partake in a beautiful small ministry this Christmas. Our friends, Francisco and Pilar were having a baby and she was due very close to Christmas. As Pilar’s pregnancy progressed, these friends of ours, who live about a 40-minute drive away from us, began to visit us more, as the nearest hospital is very close to us. They are very poor, and they do not own a car, but they would take the bus to Ciudad Quesada for their appointments, and often times Brad would be their taxi. Many times they would kill time at our house while they waited for appointments, to go to work, or in between school times. Usually when they stop by, we make coffee or breakfast for them, give a drink of water, and try our best to understand their Nicaraguan accent as we continue to make friends with the whole family.
One evening we had invited their whole family over for dinner and I made tacos. I had asked them what their favorite food to eat was and they stared at me like I was an alien. They answered rice and beans and shrugged. I then realized what a crazy question that must have been for them. It’s not like they get to choose what they want for dinner every night like we do. They don’t have electricity in their one room house, so they go to bed close to sunset and wake up with the sun. The sun sets here around 5:00 pm. They must’ve been very tired when it was after supper, and I was trying to help their teenagers with their English homework. We were trying to rush, using our internet, because they don’t have it. They need to use a neighbor’s house to charge their phones, and if the kids need to study, they need to do it at school.
One day they had been visiting with us at our house in regard to their Costa Rican visa situation. They both never learned to read or write, and there was a mistake on their residency card that was going to cost a lot of time and money to fix. People have two last names here, and she had gotten hers reversed on her card, so it didn’t match the two last names of her husband. This hurdle led to a bunch of late fees they needed to pay in order to update it, but didn’t have the money to, and we had agreed to pay those fees for them. We’d also been trying to help them get their childrens’ birth certificates from Nicaragua so the family could officially convert to Catholicism, but it’s so complicated we haven’t yet been able to fully help with that.
We have been discipling alongside this family, and I can echo (from what so many other missionaries have said) that we have learned far more from their pure faith and simple joy than they from us. On that day they were visiting us, Pilar was very pregnant and I took note that she had walked from the school, about a half mile away. Francisco had gone to play soccer with Brad and the boys. Do you want to rest in my bed? I asked her. She gratefully took me up on it and I brought her back to my room, put the fan on and closed the door behind me. I can’t describe the way I felt… like I had just heard the verse “whatever you do to the least of these you do for me.” Not that I think she’s the least, but that I think she’s the most. That I think she is Jesus. I was just thinking about how I was complaining that we had outgrown our house and were tripping over each other. I imagined what it was like for her to go from her small, dark hut where she shares a room with the whole family, to taking a nap in a window-fresh, fan-sounded cozy-bedded room with the door shut for privacy. And a completely finished (although not pretty by American standards) bathroom. A second one at that! Our house must’ve felt luxurious to her. I felt so silly for complaining. Foolish and silly.
Pilar didn’t have any baby things and I knew she didn’t have enough money to buy anything for her baby, so we wanted to bless her. When I reached out to family and friends, I was amazed at the generosity of all who donated! We were able to buy her all the things on the baby list and more! She was very gracious and humble to receive the items. But I was very struck by how simple her life seemed. I know we think we need all of these baby things in the US, but she is proof that in reality, all we need is warmth, shelter, food and love.
When we went to drop off the items, she was sitting there, holding adoringly her precious new baby in her arms, in her simple house with zero clutter, and I thought how similar it must have been like for the Holy Family, and it was such a joy to witness this blessed family in this way, so close to when baby Jesus was born.