Maria said her kids had been waiting all day for us to come. And although they were very shy, their faces lit up when we came to the door! The boys could not wait to come downstairs and help us with all the groceries, toys, and school supplies.
Gustavo is 6 years old and will be starting Kindergarten. His little brother Alfonso is three and loves Spiderman and soccer balls. When we asked their mother, Maria, if we could get them anything else they needed right now, she said things like, "the boys have no underwear, no toothbrushes, no socks," etc. And of course, she began to tear up. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have to leave your home because you are being abused, and take your two small children somewhere new, with just the clothes on your back. But mother's make it happen.
One of my favorite lines in A Thousand Splendid Suns is when Mariam says to Laila-Jo, "Laila, you're not thinking like a mother. Think like a mother. This is the only way."
I can't shake that line. I love it. Think like a mother. Anyways, I cannot imagine being a mom without a job or a real home and trying to take care of my little kids...
So, thank you, to Jamie and her sister Laura, two blog readers who got their friends and bible study groups together to collect school supplies, a queen size bed, tons of clothes, groceries, and toys for this family! Also, a huge thank you to Eileen and her dad from Diamond Bar, California, and Ila from Weatherford who sent in Wal-Mart gift cards. Girls, we were able to go buy basic things like underwear, milk, toothbrushes, and socks with your money.
I should tell you that I am not as sure about Maria's story as I am with the first family. Some parts don't make sense (my mom played detective at the house this weekend), some things don't add up, and the new living arrangements seem sketchy. There is no way to be positively sure about the validity of her story, how she ended up here, if she was really abused, or if she has just run away from something. That complicates things. Helping people isn't fail-proof. And I don't want you to think that this entire process is easy. It's not. We pray a lot about it. We try to use wisdom and discernment. And we hope that we are helping the right people at the right time. And then we turn to others for help. In this case, I left the ball in Maria's court to contact the local battered women's shelter who will help her find a job, have free childcare, provide counseling, and even a place to live.
But, as I said a few weeks ago, no matter what the mother's story is or isn't...we still walked into a run down apartment complex, and found two kids sitting in the dark in their living room because they cannot afford to use the electricity; two kids who didn't have much of anything. Food. School supplies. A bed. Toys. Nothing. And those kids deserve a better life than that. No matter what the sins of the parents are.
To watch Gustavo put on his new backpack and smile from ear to ear and to watch the boys devour their new toys and crayons and soccer ball and books and their new shoes was pure joy.
It really is easy to take care of and love the world around us! And I am glad we are doing it together.