A Bit of Relief in the Midst of Despair by Karen
|This is a photo I found online that shows|
what things looked like after Hurricane Maria.
After seeing the state of Nelson's house we asked if we could return another day, with our kids, to help him clean it up a bit. He laughed and told us that was pointless, but finally agreed that we could try.
A few days later we took a shot at tidying up. Following are some pictures from that initial effort. I'm happy to report that Nelson joyfully worked alongside us and was grateful beyond words for giving him hope.
We're were super excited to take Nelson's clothes back to him.
We found an old wire rack in one of the piles of junk, cleaned it off and used it to organize his "new" wardrobe.
As I watched Nelson check out his new shelf, I got the impression that it's been a while since he's had clean clothes - not to mention a place to put them.
He was joking that he couldn't decide what to wear. It was really cute!
After these initial encounters with Nelson we began visiting him at his home on a regular basis.
Sometimes we'd take him food and water, but other times we'd just swing by to have conversation.
I've made a habit of collecting up his dirty clothes and laundering them.
One day, I found an old hammock amidst the junk and asked if I could take it home to repair. Nelson sleeps in a hammock, so it occurred to me that if he had two that I could rotate them out to wash, just like others do with bed sheets. He just laughed at me and shook his head. I interpreted that to mean that I could take the hammock...so I did.
A friend of ours has an industrial grade sewing machine and told me that I could use it whenever I wanted. I showed their son the hammock and asked if maybe I could take them up on the offer to use the machine.
Later that day I got a call from this family, asking if I could go to their house. When I arrived, I was shown a brand new hammock that they had made for Nelson out of scrap material. I was speechless. The neighbor went on to share a bit more about Nelson's story and the tragedy of his situation. They thanked us for coming to Aguada and for our desire to help people like Nelson. In between tears I explained that my family and I are just the conduits of other people's love. That has been the on-going theme of our mission. We simply provide others with a means to share their resources and love with others who are in great need.
The next day we set out to take Nelson his new bed. Chris and I were joking that "going to work" looks a whole lot different now than it did years ago when we wore pressed shirts and high end suits.
When we got to Nelson's we hollered up to him, but there was no answer. His neighbor, Antonio, informed us that he'd left, but offered to help us install the new hammock. With a little teamwork we got the old one down and the new one up. While we were working, Antonio told us more about Nelson's family, which he'd known his whole life. Being just two years apart, Antonio and Nelson grew up together.
Our family often talks about how "everyone has a story", and we remind each other that nobody has the right to judge anyone else. As we listened to Antonio recount stories of days past, it really solidified our conviction that everyone's doing the best they can - even if it may not seem like it to others.
We didn't get to see Nelson's reaction to his new hammock when he first saw it, but we ran into him a couple days later and he was still smiling. He told us "thank you" a thousand times and told me that if it weren't for the pandemic he'd give me the world's biggest hug. We thank God for the opportunity to help Nelson feel Jesus' love. We thank God that others have stepped up to help Nelson and pray that this small act of kindness will be the beginning of something life-changing for this poor, lost soul.
I appreciate your willingness to journey with us in this beautiful life of missions. I humbly ask for prayers as we continue to seek the Lord each and every day!
In HIM, Karen
or call Family Missions Company at (337) 893 - 6111.
Thank you and may God bless you and your family!