Meet Martina

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Martina comes to our house pretty much every day.  Sometimes she comes by 3 or 4 times in one day.  Sometimes she stops in just for a cup of hot coffee, a sip of water out of the faucet, or to help take out our trash.  Martina is a street cleaner, and this past year the missionaries living here befriended her.  They actually built a one room house for her and her family because they were living in a shack made of scraps and tarps.  Martina showed up one day at the missionaries’ doorstep with a bag full of clothes that she wanted to “give to the poor” in the ranchos.  She began going with the missionaries to evangelize and was soon being evangelized herself.

We met Martina for the first time in November when we spent the month here as part of our training.  At first glance you would probably write her off as crazy.  Most people do, and we did as well.  But as we have lived here and interacted with her, the Lord keeps showing me how much I have to learn from her.

I have to admit, at the beginning I was really kind of annoyed by Martina.  She yells, likes to repeat one word over and over and laughs at you if you don’t understand what she’s trying to say, and doesn’t really know what “personal space” is.  It wasn’t until my two year old daughter started getting excited and yelling, “Tina! Tina!” when she heard Martina’s voice accompanying the loud knocking at the door, that I started to think maybe I need to pay a little more attention to Martina.  God was beginning to work on my heart.

One day I remember being aggravated to hear her voice again at the door and a bit frustrated when she came in waving her arms around and saying something impossible to understand, when I realized that she had come in to help take the garbage out.  Another day I was serving her coffee and whatever leftovers we had and she tried to wash her own dishes for us.

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Last week we ran into Martina on the street, and she asked us again when we were going to the ranchos.  We told her we were leaving in about 30 minutes, and she said, “Ok, I’m coming.”  While we were waiting for all the people to come to the chapel, I noticed Martina excitedly telling the little girls, “sheep! sheep!” so I followed her as she led them to the pen where they were kept.  She threw some grass in so the girls could see them eating, and when they were done she led them to check out the pig next door.

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I never quite know what to expect from Martina, but this day God was inviting me to see her through His eyes.  Once everyone was gathered in the chapel we started singing and praising God.  I looked over at Martina and she was singing at the top of her lungs, jumping up and down and waving her arms in the air.  She was completely into it and did not care a bit about what anyone thought of her…she was praising her God.  I thought, “gosh, I don’t know when, if ever, I have been that free to praise the Lord.”

A little while later, while Erik was sharing on a Scripture, I looked across the chapel and saw Martina pulling little pieces of candy out of her pocket and giving them to Theresa.  My gut reaction was, “oh gosh, they don’t have a wrapper, and I wonder if Martina has washed her hands since work.” And then I felt God inviting me to see Martina’s generosity through His eyes.  Martina has nothing materially, and is so generous with the little that she has.  And Theresa was delighted to benefit from her generosity!

I little while later, I noticed Martina had moved and was sitting on the floor next to Magdalena’s car seat.  Martina was rocking her and making faces, and Madgalena was having a ball.

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At the end of our time in the chapel we had a time of prayer.  I noticed Martina out of the corner of my eye.  She was crying.  Again I felt like God was showing me more of His beloved daughter.  So often I see Martina joking around, smile on her face, and acting crazy, but this day I got to see that she hurts, too.  She has real suffering in her life, but is able to live joyfully despite the suffering.

I am learning so much from Martina and growing to really love her, thanks to the example of my girls. Now instead of being annoyed when I hear her voice accompanying the knock at the door, it brings a little smile to my face.  I wonder what God wants to teach me through her today!

 

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~ by martinsonmission on March 29, 2014.

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