The Widow's Mite
by Lynn turner
On a recent trip to the Amazon, Russ and I spent the night in the Tikuna/Cocama village of Macedonia, some 4 hours upriver by boat from Leticia, Colombia. Torrential rains pounding on the roof woke us in the early morning hours before daylight. It had been a fitful night - hot, muggy, no electricity for a fan; the bed was sunk in the middle similar to a canoe and felt as if it were made of corn shucks - hard and pressed down. My first thought upon waking was, "How rough will our boat ride across the Amazon River be in this heavy rain?" The people in San Antonio, Peru, were expecting us for the Sunday morning service. Fortunately I had brought rubber boots and rain gear.
By the time daylight arrived, however, the torrential rains had calmed to a light rain, and my uncertainty abated. We loaded our gear into the small 15 horse-power boat and after walking across some boards laid down over a swampy area (the "ramp"), we were off for the hour-long ride upriver and across the Amazon River to the village, San Antonio, on the Peruvian side of the river. When Russ visited this village a few months ago, they asked for help to build a church building, and we provided the funds.
Upon arriving, several people met us - the pastor, his wife, and a little lady with a huge smile. After greeting everyone, the pastor, anxious to show Russ and Loló the building, walked off in the direction of the church. I stayed back with Doña Rosa, a little spry 93-year old with a joyful demeanor, who walked with only a stick for support.
Doña Rosa and I had a good time talking while we walked back from the river's edge to her house. I left her there with her daughter and continued walking through the village to the new building. They were excited to show us how much they had accomplished in a short amount of time. It was thrilling to see the finished structure. Of course, they still lack the walls, windows and doors, but they are working hard to complete it in the near future. We returned to the pastor's house for the morning service.
As one learns to expect in an Indian village, there were several interruptions during the service. At one point a small parrot decided to join us. He ran back and forth all over the room and, before he left, a chicken ran inside and started cackling so loudly that Russ had to stop speaking for a moment. He told the hen, "Ok, that's enough. Time for you to leave." The ladies then shooed her out the door.
After the service, the ladies served us a typical lunch of soup with fariña. As we were preparing to leave, Doña Rosa stood up and walked over to me. I thought she meant to give me a hug, but she grabbed my hand and put something in it. I realized immediately that it was some money, and I was unsure what to do. She said, "Use this in the ministry."
I was so humbled. "Doña Rosa", I replied, "I should be giving to you", but she shook her head emphatically. "No", she responded. I looked at her daughter, and the daughter said, "She wants to help in the ministry. Take it". I quietly put it into my pocket.
"You can be assured that we will use it wisely", I told her.
Later, as we left, I told Russ what had transpired with Doña Rosa. I pulled the bill from my pocket to show him. It was a 2,000 Colombian peso bill - about 50 cents. This little lady lives in a village 4-hours from the nearest town that is only accessible by boat. These people have nothing by our standards. They live on what they grow, hunt and fish. This money was precious to her, but she gave it to the Lord. What an example of the Biblical widow who gave her last 2 copper coins. I wonder how the Lord will bless her sacrifice. God certainly blessed my heart that morning. There is no gift too small.