“You don’t have to do that” I insisted as she, an elderly woman from Costa Rica by the name of Lourdes, offered to wash and massage my swollen feet. The more I declined her offer, the faster she moved to grab a pot to heat up water, pour it in a bucket with herbs and salt and place my feet in it.
My father and I met at the Orlando airport to take the same flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. Upon arrival, it is required that everyone pass through customs. To our surprise, the line was so long that we were close to the bathrooms located towards the exit side of the building. The airport staff informed us that there were several flights delayed and it appeared that they all arrived at the same hour. We were in that line for almost 3 hours and that is not to include the normal travel time when flying internationally. Due to this, our feet became extremely swollen.
Lourdes noticed my feet and began asking me questions about the trip. I informed her of the details. She immediately, with no hesitation decided it was necessary that she took care of my swollen feet.
The Apostol Paul speaking in Acts 20:35 said “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work, we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Sometimes as missionaries, we are trained, prepared and ready to provide our resources, talents, gifts, love and anything else in our power to give but seldom are we ready to receive. I was humbled to see the act of this beautiful lady that selflessly and willingly attended to a need that to me seemed as part of a long travel day, but she saw it as an opportunity to serve. It was an opportunity for her to give of what little she had but knew was more than enough to supply a need.
Do you want to know what was most impressive? The fact that it came natural to her. And I ask myself, is it more natural for most of us to give or is it more natural for us to receive? For most of us in America, we are used to simply opening the faucet and there being hot water readily available. We are used to shorter lines and when they are too long, finding a quicker alternative. We are used to instant gratification. For the most part, it does not come naturally to allow others to go ahead of us when it’s an inconvenience. It does not come naturally to provide a selfless act when it requires a personal sacrifice such as investing an extended period of time.
What is natural is the notion of receiving a return for our investment. The idea that we give to then receive. Many would call it the proper exchange of goods and services. Yes, this is the way the world functions and that is great, but we must never forget that there is a beauty that is only experienced when we give without expecting anything in return. There is a grace that follows the journey of those who seek to help the weak. In selfless giving, there is humility that is manifested to remind us that we are all the same regardless of our status, title and position in life.
Jesus, the son of God, in the book of John chapter 13, prepared a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet. Peter became upset and practically told him that it was beneath him to do such a thing. Jesus reprimanded him and said, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me”. It was Jesus’ ultimate display of His humility and servanthood.
Through the words of Jesus, I understood that serving and giving of oneself is a way of sharing and partaking in the life of others. There is nothing more fulfilling than joining forces with others. There is nothing more uplifting than rising above a storm with someone holding our hand through it all. There is nothing more empowering than to lay our pride down for the sake of the greater good.
Sister Lourdes might not understand the significance of her act,but her act of giving will transcend further than what she could ever imagine. We might not always witness the fruit of our giving, but rest assured that somewhere, someone’s life has been touched and transformed and hope in humanity is once again, reborn.