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Welcome to my blog. I document my adventures as a missionary, mom, and bookworm. Hope you have a nice stay!

The Giving Question {Part 1}

The Giving Question {Part 1}

Candace studied the note scribbled on a scrap of cookie wrapper: “Can you plz help me wit $7? I don’t have nothing to feed my children. Tank you and god bless. Your true friend Eloise.” The note joined its predecessors, seven from the past month, in giving Candace a headache.

Candace laid the note on the kitchen table. The fan picked it up and tossed it, in a swirl of tropical heat, onto the floor. Candace pressed a finger to her temple. God, what shall I do?

Rubi, bearer of the note, settled on the floor with a stack of puzzles from the bookshelf. She fished a sheep from the jumble of pieces and placed it on the puzzle board. She lost herself in their bright colors and wooden textures.

Candace studied the young girl on the floor, picturing the girl’s family. They probably are hungry. Eloise had six children to feed, and her boyfriend Tony had lost his job.

To give or not to give? How much or how often? These questions barraged Candace.  I was hungry and ye gave me no food. I was hungry and ye gave me no food. The verse was a track stuck on repeat. But why should we be feeding this family? Tony is an able-bodied man, capable of providing for his family. Certainly he could find another job. He could load sand if nothing else!

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Candace turned from the note, mind made up, the decision fueled by memories of meeting Eloise at the shop with a Coke and a pack of chips after the last time Candace gave her cash. Candace took a jar of rice from the cupboard. She eyeballed a pound of rice, dumping it into a plastic grocery sack. “No beans left,” she said to herself, taking a moment to jot the item on her grocery list. She hesitated a moment before going to the freezer and taking some chicken out to add to the bag. Meat was rather precious, but rice and chicken would make a nutritious meal.

She handed the bag to Rubi. Rubi was in no hurry to leave. She’d moved on to the Legos now, bright towers standing guard around her like cheerful sentinels.  

As mealtime approached, Candace shooed Rubi out the door. “Your ma is waiting for the food.”

After thanks had been given, Candace dished stew beans onto John’s plate first, then the children’s, topping each bowl with a tortilla. “What shall I do about Eloise? She’s been asking for stuff a lot, but I keep thinking of that verse that says he who has this world’s goods and shuts up his bowels of compassion. It says that the love of God doesn’t dwell in him.”

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“Are you sure you’re helping her by giving her things every time she asks?” John asked.

“No, I’m not sure,” Candace said. “I do believe they don’t have any food in the house. But I have this feeling that when they get money they aren’t worried about spending it wisely because they know the rich Americans are just down the street.”

Two days later Eloise called a boisterous greeting from the gate, then settled onto the porch swing, glad to escape the intense sun. Candace joined her after offering her guest a glass of water.

“You my only true friend,” Eloise said. “I know you always be there for me when I need someting.”

Candace didn’t respond, waiting to find out why she was being buttered up.

“I wanna cook fo’ you. I wanna make you a Belizean soup,” Eloise said.

“I’d like that,” Candace said. “I love finding out more about Belizean food.” Is this an effort to repay everything we’ve given her the last while?

“How ‘bout Monday?” Eloise asked.

Candace agreed.

 

Monday’s wash hung in a long line over the sun-drenched yard. Candace looked at the clock for the tenth time that hour. The clock read 11:30, but the would-be-cook had not appeared. “I think I’ll move to plan B.” Candace pulled a plastic container of leftover chicken from the refrigerator, then the jar of rice from the cupboard.

Eloise appeared the next morning, literally a day late and a dollar short. Several runny-nosed children trailed her. They started emptying the toy box while Candace and Eloise visited. “I’m gonna cook for you today, remember?” Eloise said.

“Yes, I’m looking forward to it,” Candace said.

“But I don’t have no money to buy the tings to make it,” Eloise said.

Candace tapped the arm of the couch with rapid staccato beats. “Maybe you could go to the shop and find out what everything would cost. Then I could give you the money to buy it.”

Eloise smiled. “Ok. I be back.” She left her children behind and walked to the shop just down the street, returning a short while later. “It will cost $30,” Eloise said.

“Thirty dollars? That sounds like a lot.” But it would feed the seven of them and Eloise was probably planning for it to feed her family of eight as well.

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When Eloise set her bag of ingredients on the table, Candace peeked inside. She pulled out a red package. Cookies.

“That for me,” Eloise said quickly.

Candace also noted that there was a large container of oil with the soup’s ingredients. No wonder the price had been $30! God, if you love a cheerful giver, I’m afraid you don’t love me very much right now. Why does it always feel like she eats my arm when I give her my hand?

“I forgot to buy the seasonings. Can I use some of yours?”

Candace shrugged. “Sure.”

Candace opened her spice cupboard and dumped salt, pepper, and season salt into a small bag.

“Give me some of this, too,” Eloise pulled out the can of consommé. “You got recado?”

Candace took a bag from the fridge and placed a ball of the red paste with the other seasonings.

“Oh, you use this?” Eloise held up a tube of shortening.

“Yes, I use it, but I suppose you may have it,” Candace said, feeling weary. But didn’t the Bible say, "Give to him that asketh of thee”?

To be continued...

The Giving Question {Part 2}

The Giving Question {Part 2}

Picture Books We Read Over and Over Again {Preschool and Beyond}

Picture Books We Read Over and Over Again {Preschool and Beyond}