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February 27, 2013

Mexico: A Precious Gift

A knock on the door and a plea for help was the beginning of a precious friendship.

  • Tough Neighborhood

    Trying to make a living is difficult in this poor Guadalajara neighborhood. My friend Laura supports her four children and sister with the job we provided her as a housecleaner.

She came to our home one day asking for anything we could give: clothes, food, a small job she could do to earn a little bit of money. This wasn’t surprising; people come by our home every day asking for help of one kind or another – but this time was different.

I hired Laura* to clean our home, and she does an amazing job. We pay her the going rate for housecleaning, and we give her food. We gave her a chance. In Mexico, you don’t have people clean your home without references. But how are you supposed to get references if no one gives you that first chance? Laura and I slowly got to know each other. She gave me a chance, too, offering me the precious gift of her friendship. She comes on days she doesn’t clean, and we talk. She tells me her story.

Laura didn’t finish school beyond sixth grade because she had to care for multiple younger siblings. She was pregnant by age 14, something that is common in her neighborhood and her family. It’s the life she knows, and the life of all the other women she knows – her sisters, cousins, friends, and neighbors. Now, four children later, the money she makes cleaning our home is about all she gets each week. She lives in a home made of laminate sheeting. Her sister lives there, too, and they are terrified the roof will fall down in rainstorms.

More than anything, Laura wants to be able to provide for her children. She wants her daughter to finish school. So she swallows her own pride and asks for help. She’s proud she has a regular job now. She brings her kids with her when she comes, and I read them stories. Her family laughs because her four-year-old son has memorized the book Oso Pardo (Brown Bear, Brown Bear), but he repeats it with my American accent!

One day, Laura brought her eight-year-old daughter. We sat and had coffee and oatmeal cookies. While we were talking, she asked me about heaven and how it seems like heaven has to be where we all go when we die because hell is here on earth. So we talked about Jesus, about life, about what Jesus came to do. We read Scripture together, and I gave her a Bible. She’s never read the Bible; never heard that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. She has more questions.

I desperately pray for my friend – that she would believe, that her daughter would believe, and that a community of Jesus-followers would form in her neighborhood. As I continue the conversation with my friend Laura, I realize what a precious gift I received when she knocked on my door.

-Written by Emily Johnson, TEAM missionary in Mexico
-Photo provided by Emily Johnson

*Not her real name