I felt guilt
I felt shame
I felt unworthy and overwhelmed.
I could not bring myself to eat the food that was set before me, but knew if I didn’t then I would offend the one who gave so graciously and sacrificially.
Darline Palmer is a beautiful woman, inside and out, living in Merci De Dieu Village. She touched my heart and soul for life…and I’m quite certain God intended it to be that way. I have said before, “we go to Haiti to bless and in return are blessed far greater by the people there.” It was no different this last trip and I know that my husband and step-mom would agree.
Darline has nothing, at least by American standards, and yet opened her home to us so that she could serve us a meal. She said she felt blessed by God and in return wanted to bless us with a meal because that is what God called her to do.
She wanted to bless outwardly what she felt inwardly.
A new mom, 10 days post-partum cesarean section, worked all morning pouring herself into making a delicious home- cooked meal for us. As I sat at her table I swallowed hard and breathed deep as tears filled my eyes I felt guilt- I felt shame- I felt unworthy and overwhelmed.
I knew I didn’t need this meal, not in the way that the tiny bodies of her children needed it. I could not bring myself to eat the food she set before us, but also knew if I didn’t eat I would offend her causing her shame and embarrassment.
I questioned myself for a few minutes. I could not bare to waste a single bite, but then wondered if I left most of it untouched would she be able to give it to her children?
She walked around the room with a newborn baby in one arm and a servant’s heart in the other.
What was even more heart-wrenching was the fact that I knew where the money came from that paid for our meal…how she earned it.
I knew that, at 9 months pregnant, she sat hours upon hours in the scorching heat hand embroidering beautiful artwork onto a piece of cloth so that she might be able to provide for her family through the Threads of Blessing program.
I knew the amount of money that sat in the envelope she had received the day before and I understood the amount of money she had just spent on this beautiful meal for us.
I sat and grieved. She gave what, in her words, God called her to give.She gave in the midst of
-not knowing where her next meal would come from
-not knowing if her husband would be able to find work in a city where men and women fight to live- life.
She stepped out in obedience. She stepped out in faith trusting God- that he would provide for her family despite her questions and “what ifs.” She walked forward in grace extending a heart of thankfulness. She sacrificed for the sake of saying “thank you” because she felt God calling her to pour grace upon us.
As we sat at her table, She told us of her days before and after the earthquake. How her family was forced into one of the many “tent cities.” How she had to sit outside the tent because on most days the temperature inside the tent reached 120. She lost everything.
She shared about God’s faithfulness to her during this time. How she continued to put her hope and trust in the One who would eventually answer her plea with the blessing of moving her into Merci de Dieu Village.
She says she continues to trust God. She continues to put her hope in Him despite the every day circumstances surrounding her. She continues to wait, persevering in prayer, as her husband tries to find a job…to make a living.
I left her house that Sunday afternoon asking myself, “have I ever truly given- Sacrificing for another?
How much more am I called to give…To pour grace into others?”
I have a budget for giving. She gave what she didn’t have to give.
My giving is not sacrificial. My giving is me giving up a luxury- a date night, a meal out to dinner, a pedicure. She gave out of obedience in fullness of trusting in the One who has always provided for her.
I will always be grateful for the kindness she showed, the grace she walked in as her daughter washed our hands after the meal she spent an afternoon preparing for us- She not only served our bodies…she served our hearts forever..