Many times speaking to groups throughout the years, I’ve tried to emphasize that you are never to “old” for ministry opportunities and even going into missions. One of my dear friends has just gone on to be with the Lord at age 90, she died on the field, but she did not start her foreign mission career until she “retired”. What a wonderful servant Zelma Houser was and her work lives on ! Praise God! But you see my title and I want you to know about ministering when you are young or involving your children, grandchildren because it is a blessing and an experience for them. See this pile of sweaters, to you it might not be so attractive but these 50 or so sweaters changed lives of the givers and those that received one chilly December morning.
Billy, my Guatemalan grandson, mentioned one morning how cold it was outside and how people did not have sweaters. Billy is 9 years old, a very, very observant boy. I told him the story of what really led me to knowing his mom, Telma and that was a sweater. Years ago, here in Antigua I was exercising early in the morning , fully dressed to combat temps of high 40’s, low 50’s at six in the morning. I noticed children without sweaters just shivering in the early morning air. That day I determined to buy some sweaters at the used clothes market and give them away. At the time, I had no washer or dryer, but my precious neighbour, Solveig Padilla, joined with me to wash, dry and fold about 4 or 5 dozen sweaters of all sizes.
The next day I went out in my truck looking for people without sweaters. I remember some so well, 4 little children on the streets of Antigua, alone, but walking down the street, the oldest only 10 years old. They were so happy to get a sweater. One person I gave to was Angela, the grandmother of Karla, who has been my Guatemalan daughter, the past 12 years. It started a relationship that has spanned 20 years and took me to a school where Billy’s mom, Telma was a student in Primero Basico, as I enrolled Edgar Rolando, the son of Angela. I became a teacher at that school and worked with Asca Revolorio Lopez, who has been my very best Guatemalan friend for many years.
Billy was impressed by the history and we determined to go to the market and repeat this history. Karla and Olga Lorena were enthused to do this and the next day we bought all the sweaters you can see, most were only about 15 or 30 cents a piece. I washed them and folded , but this was a project for the kids to do.
We had Yaki, Karla’s cousin, with us for a few days and she helped also. The kids made 4 master lists of sizes and colors. They had two teams, Billy and Karla for the smaller sizes, then Olga Lorena and Yaki for the larger sizes. We got up the next day at 5:30 in the morning and it was, for us, SUPER cold. We were in the car at 6 and starting to look for people without sweaters. In theory I was just the driver and they had the responsibility to look and give. They spotted our first person without a sweater and I circled the block. They left the car to inquire IF the person wanted a sweater, then came back and fitted her. From there we saw so many without and they would shout to stop and ask if they could GIVE, free a sweater. They were so excited to see the person, teen, child or adult immediately put on the sweater and even as I write to relive the time, I cry a bit it was so precious.
The girls saw a whole group without sweaters cutting coffee, they had come from a warmer part of Guatemala to work, they outfitted them all. I thought it would be appropriate to swing by the house of Edgar Rolando, Karla’s uncle, who was a recipient when I gave, he now is married with two children. We were close to the property they live on. His children were so happy to get warm stylish sweaters. We met a very old couple going down the street that really needed the sweaters. They were so sweet, we also gave them water and a few quetzales, the national money, to really bless them as they had no expectation as they walked early on a side street.
The kids said they could not stop smiling, the joy of giving just engulfed them and the experience is one they will never forget. Purposely I did not take my camera as I did not want this to become a photo op, the memory is with them and of course me too. Remember this story and I would just encourage you to think of a way to involve your children to selflessly give to others.