By Isabel Maldonado
There is something interesting about people living in poverty. Most of the time we don’t like to admit that we have nothing, that we are taking each day at a time praying that maybe God will send someone with something to meet our needs.
Living out in Nsoko is heart-breaking. Living in Swaziland is hard enough for most Americans, being away from the comforts that we all love so much, but Nsoko is something completely different. I came to Manzini with Philile and Pastor Gift today. Our first stop was to pick up the lab results from The Luke Commission.
They came and visited Nsoko last week and offered HIV testing. Almost all that were tested were positive! Wow! These aren’t statistics anymore. These are all people I know and have built relationships with and they are living with HIV.
Back to living in poverty, though…
I have been asked why it is I feel called to Swaziland. And every time I am asked I don’t know how to respond. Each time I am here the Lord stirs something in my heart and I have this connection that I can’t really explain. When Philile apologizes repeatedly for the food not being elaborate or enough I find myself at a loss of words.
There were many days when I was younger that my mom did her best at providing something for us, even if she did without. I’m not trying to say that I am starving in Nsoko, but living with Swazis has opened my eyes a bit. I am not angry or upset when there isn’t any food, rather I realize that because of transportation and funds being in Manzini, things aren’t always where they need to be when they need to be there.
Every time I have visited the carepoints over the last two weeks the teachers keep telling me their biggest need is food. These kids come day after day hoping that there will be some kind of food to fill their little swollen bellies. But even though people may be living in poverty, they are still not willing to tell you.
There is this shame that fills this country and these people, myself included. We feel shame because we are having to rely on others to provide for our needs. We feel like beggars. But this shouldn’t be the case at all. The Lord has called us to live in community and to serve those around us. He has called us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
If we truly believed this gospel that we claim to be preaching, would we have thousands of kids going hungry for days to weeks at a time? Would we need to live in shame to ask our neighbor for even a little bit of something to eat? There are days that I open the fridge and there isn’t anything in there. But everyday the Lord continues to provide and Philile has made yet another wonderful dinner.
Even though it may look like everyone is living in poverty, there is this amazing community of people ready and willing to help their neighbors.
Isabel, originally from a small town in Texas, has been on assorted mission trips in her life. She returned to Swaziland again in June 2008, where God has continued to wreck her world and turn everything upside down.