Help A Brother Out

12:00 AM

On any given day here in South Africa, you will find people on the streets selling everything from socks to wall art to fruits and vegetables to flowers. And then you have the guys who, every time you park, ask if they can watch your car for a tip. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the requests and think, "Does my white skin make me automatically rich?" Well, I think in the eyes of some, it does. You see, jobs are very hard to come by here. And those with little education have an even dimmer chance of finding work.

The other day I went to pick Joshua up from school. While we were getting into the car, a man came selling produce. I didn't even look at it. I just said, "No, thank you." As we drove off, Joshua asked why I didn't buy it. I said it was because I didn't have any change. That might have been true but in reality, I just get put off with all the requests and say no quickly. Joshua said, "He's just trying to make money." Wow, what perspective. It's not like he was begging on the streets. He was just trying to make money by selling something. He wasn't asking for a hand out or pity. He was just trying to earn a living.

handful of plums

The next day the same scenario played out. A man came by selling a kilo of plums for R20. I like plums and the price was cheaper than the grocery store, so I said, "Yes!" Joshua was happy that we helped the guy out and he even downed 3 juicy ones on the way to pick up his sister. I've had my eye on some plum jam recipes so Joshua will be even happier to give him more business!

eating a plum

I have a housekeeper that comes once a week to clean my house. In the beginning I wrestled through this so much. I mean should a missionary have a house cleaner!? But then it dawned on me. Hiring someone is about so much more than me getting my house cleaned (although that is really fantastic!) but it's about providing her with a job. She recently asked me about working more than one day a week. To prove her abilities, she brought 2 letters from past employers. One was dated 1994 and the other 1999. She has saved these letters for 15 and 10 years! I am very happy that I can provide her with a job so that she can feed her family. In a land of so much need, it's a privilege to do what I can to help others.

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  1. I can so identify with this post. It's really hard when people seem to expect a handout or a tip - sometimes for doing things we don't even want them to do!

    In Egypt, at least, the fruits and vegetables sold out of donkey carts by the side of the road, were always so much more delectable than what we had in the local grocery store, which looked more like it had fallen off the donkey cart! I also liked it that the money went straight to the person who farmed the produce rather than through an intermediary. Great work supporting your local plum seller, Jen!

    Also, I think more moms should have housekeepers - it frees us up to do more important things with our time. And it provides employment to people who need the money more than we do.

  2. I go back and forth too. On the one hand, it gets really annoying. On the other, it is such a small way I can contribute to another's wellbeing. I need the reminder of keeping it perspective.

  3. Wow, the story of the housekeeper was really touching to me. That she would save those letters for so long! I grew up having my Mom's sister and her family in Africa for 17 years, and they always had a housekeeper for the same reason. They were providing a job for a woman who desperately needed one, and my cousins still talk about her! She was such a huge help to my aunt, and then she could focus more of her time on the ministry that God had planted them there for.


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