Thursday, December 09, 1999

The Widow's Mite

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matthew 7:11

Christmas came in October. Although the city of Craiova had no decorations, our distribution site down a cobblestone street, behind yellow warped and aging metal gates looked like the scene of a child’s birthday party. Balloon flowers with green-foiled leaves, heart balloon bouquets and multi-colored streamers adorning every tree and clothesline brought cheerful smiles despite the dreary weather.

But the decorations could not cover the despair and difficulties we witnessed. Lives of suffering in isolation, without dignity, dependant upon the mercy of others. Family members came inside the compound carrying in their arms adult children who had never been mobile. Friends carried neighbors on their backs and sat them in the temporary wheelchairs. Those affected by disability wept at the thought of the great gift they were about to receive.

Yet the condition of their bodies, did not affect the generosity of their hearts. Each day grateful recipients, family members and neighbors would return bearing gifts to show their appreciation for what they had received. At the end of the first day, a woman whose husband had received a wheelchair returned carrying a butcher paper wrapped package. Inside, hats she had crafted for each of the women (and clown) on the “Wheels to the World” team.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty...” Mark 12:43-44

The last day of the wheelchair distribution our occupational therapist, Karla Farrow had a very special birthday. An elderly woman returned dressed in fine clothes with hair neatly combed, to see her. Through the interpreter, she handed Karla a gift explaining that her sister (who had recently had her leg amputated) wanted to show her appreciation for the time and care Karla had given during her wheelchair fitting.

Then will the lame leap like a deer … Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:6-10

She related it was something her sister had made prior to losing her leg to the surgeon’s knife and her hands to the arthritis that left them mangled and unable to sew. Karla unwrapped the package to discover a beautiful hand woven blanket. This was truly a treasure that offers more than mere warmth to all hearts.

Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts,

"Be strong, do not fear; your God will come … he will come to save you." Isaiah 35:3-5