Like many of you have also experienced, this has been a particularly cold winter for us. It is rare that we have snow in our area, but so far we have had four snowfalls this season. The weatherman said it’s been the coldest winter we’ve had in 12 years.
As you would imagine the cold is particularly hard on the poor, especially the elderly. Many of the people we serve live in cinderblock houses with no source of heat except perhaps a sheet-metal fireplace in which they burn wood scraps. Others have a gas heater but often don’t have the $10 – $20 needed to fill the propane tank.
Spending the day in Juarez recently to help deliver groceries to these homes, I was again struck by how many challenges these people deal with. Maria, an elderly blind lady, was sitting in her cement house which was frigidly cold since she had no means of buying gas for her heater. Her arthritic shoulder was causing her a lot of pain and she had no medicine or pain relievers. Her daughter was there who had deformed feet, walked with crutches, and had just gone through surgery on her trachea so was in a front-to-back cervical brace.
We also visited Rosa (pictured below) who is dying of cancer. When we walked in, she was by herself, shivering in bed with just a thin polyester bedspread pulled up under her chin. When we asked her how she was, she said through chattering teeth, “Cold!” We sent back to the Food Bank for more blankets for her.
One lady we visit was deserted by her husband, leaving her with their three children to raise. She would have been homeless except that a neighbor is letting her live in a broken down one-room shack. The windows are covered with dish towels since there are no glass panes, and when the temperatures dip down into the 20s you can imagine how cold it gets in there. When we first met her they only had a rickety table and a mattress on the floor with one blanket for the four of them to share.
Despite the tremendous hardships they face, the poor have so much faith in God. They depend on Him for everything and have deep trust that He will provide. “I have so much to be grateful for,” blind Maria told us. “I have a roof over my head, the food you bring us, and my children and grandchildren around me. I am so blessed. I can never thank God enough for all He has done for me.”
I felt pretty ashamed of myself for ever complaining.