Railee the missionary
Had a lot of hard, cold pride,
And if you ever saw it,
You would want to run and hide.
All of the missionaries,
Used to tell her, "Falar mais!"
They never let poor Railee
Simply eat her beans and rice.
Then one muggy Thursday night
The D.L. called to say:
"I don't mean to be a jerk,
But forget yourself and go to work."
Now, oh, how Railee's changing!
And she wants to shout with glee (yipee!)
"Yes, I'm a missionary,
"And feeling like one, finally!"
This week really flew by. I've learned that for every time the words "me, my I," or "mine" entered my head, time slows and I weigh more and it gets hotter. Interesting, eh? Thinking about other people makes a HUGE difference. It feels great!
It comes with heartbreak, too. Having a soft heart means that it's susceptible to being hurt, but it's worth it, because then it can also feel all the joy and light there is to feel! And as a missionary, the joy far outweighs the heartache.
This week you all get to hear about Elisangela.
Mussurunga is a very poor area (I live in the favelas, just so y'all know), and even those who are considered well-off here would be among the poorest in the U.S. Here, Elisangela is among the poorest of the poor. She has 8 children, the oldest of whom is 15 and has a baby and another one on the way. They live in a "house" that is about the size of my living room at home. Elisangela is very humble and quiet. She comes to church every Sunday with all of her children, even though no one sits by her because she's so poor. She's embarrassed that her kids have no clothes to wear to church. Sister Rosado and I have been trying to get people in the ward to donate clothes their children have outgrown, but we haven't had much success with that yet. Sister Rosado gave them a bag of clothes that she doesn't wear. I don't know what they'll do with those, since all of the kids are too small to wear them.
Last Saturday morning, Sister Rosado and I set out early to see what we could do to help Elisangela. We decided we would help her clean her house. I'd only ever seen the front room, when Elisangela fed us lunch (I'm pretty sure she and her children ate nothing that day but our leftovers), which is just big enough to fit two grimy, falling-apart couches and a TV (everyone has a TV somehow, and it's always on). When we went to clean, there were banana peels all over the floor and couches of this front room and amid Elisangela's protests, Sister Rosado and I set to work picking them all up. When I walked into the kitchen, my heart shattered into tiny pieces. There was no light, and it smelled like it looked. Grimy, falling apart. There were banana peels everywhere of differing ages, and the cupboards looked like Miss Havisham's wedding cake had exploded in them. The most horrifying part was the mouldering pile of black mold in one corner that I realized was a mattress that the family slept on. I felt like merely breathing the air in that house was a serious health hazard and I was afraid of touching anything. But that's how this humble, sweet little family lives every day! And so, I ignored my thoughts of health preservation and did my best to clean the place. They didn't own any cleaning supplies, so I used one of the little girls' shorts with water to clean, and by the end we had to throw the shorts away because they were destroyed.
More and more every day, I'm realizing just what a spoiled white girl I am. Amazingly, I'm also seeing how the gospel can help these poor people more than anything else. There's nowhere else I'd rather be right now than exactly where I am, working among these poor people. Alma, chapters 31-35 really have taken on new meaning for me here.
This Christmas season, I challenge all of you to go out and help the poor in your community. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or something! There are people out there who are starved for love.
I love you all! Time's up!