In town part 1
In town part 2
In town part 3
Today I was complaining to Hector about being homeless. I spent most of the morning walking around town looking for a place to live. Each place I found was either too expensive or I wouldn’t want to live there.
As we ate a late lunch Hector said, “What’s wrong with you Annay? You’re so blessed and you’re sitting here complaining.”
We talked for a while and then he asked me, “Annay, when was the last time you did something for someone else, for someone in need?”
“I’m Keeping you company, and you seem needy to me.”
“I’m being serious.” He stared at me with those deep blue eyes of his. “God made us to help others and if you’re not, then something is missing in your life”
I sat there silently for a while. I don’t really like it when Hector starts to get preachy – on the other hand I’ve learned that he’s usually right.
“I’m really busy right now,” I finally said, “I’m trying to find a place to live and a job.
“How about last week?”
“I was packing and getting ready for my birthday.”
“The week before that?”
“Collecting herbs for Master and finishing my project. ”
“And the week before that?”
“I was on a trip to White Water.”
“What is going to keep you from helping someone next week?”
Again we sat in silence.
“Life is just complicated. Don’t I have to take care of my self first?”
“No,” was all he said.
“No?” I asked lamely.
“No. You make choices every day. You only have so much time, so many resources. You have to choose how to use them. You made time to eat with me. You can choose to make time to help someone else.”
“I guess,” I said. “How about as soon as I get settled into my new place. I promise you can remind me.”
“How about right now?”
“Now? I’ve got to find someplace to live.” I protested.
“Will one hour make any difference? How many places have you looked at? How many more can you stand to look at today? Come on. I’ve got some friends I want you to meet.”
Hector started to get up and I didn’t know what to do so I got up too. He turned around and walked out of the inn and I found myself following him. We walked along the promenade and then headed into the lower part of town. We stopped outside of a little market.
“Do you have a silver piece?” he asked me.
“Get it out.”
I did as Hector said.
“Good. Now we’re going to go in and buy some treats for my friends.”
“But why would I want to spend my money to buy your friends some treats?”
“Trust me. When we’re done, if you don’t think it was a good way to spend a silver piece, I give you one back.”
I shrugged in defeat – whatever.
We walked into the store and Hector walked to a table that held fresh fruit.
“There are ten kids that I visit once a week. I bring them treats and we sit and talk. Jenny likes apples” Hector picked out a big red one. “Jimmy doesn’t like apples, his teeth aren’t very good, so I’ll get him a pear or a roll. Why don’t you get treats for five of the kids and I’ll get treats for the other five.”
“Sure,” I said and started look around the store.
“Don’t you want to know their names and what they like?”
“No. I think I can figure this out on my own. They’re kids right? I was a kid once. I’m sure I can pick something.”
Hector shook his head and I tried to ignore it. I looked around and decided to get five oranges and five sweet rolls. I gave the storeowner my silver piece and he gave me a few copper pieces in return.
Hector took a bit longer to finish his shopping and then we left. We finished walking down the hill into the lower town and then along the outer wall. The houses her were much smaller than the ones in the old town, and made of wood instead of stone. But some of them looked nice.
As we were walking along I noticed a “For Let” sign on one of the doors. I stopped to read the details, but Hector grabbed my arm and pulled me down the street.
“We don’t have time to stop – we’ll be late.”
“But that apartment looks nice. I want to see how much they want.”
“You can do that later. Right now there are ten kids waiting for us.”
I sighed, but followed Hector. We kept walking and as we did the quality of the houses we were passing kept getting lower. We finally stopped by a small open square between some stone buildings. Ten kids were play tag – running and screaming and kicking up dust. As soon as the next child was tagged the game abruptly ended and they all came running over to Hector and me.
Each one in turned gave Hector a big hug. They all seemed glad to see him. After all the hugging was done, Hector pulled out the bag he had brought from, the market.
“Children. This is my good friend Annay. I hope you will treat her as nicely as you treat me.”
With that one of the little girls walked over to me. She curtsied, holding the edges of her old and tattered skirt. “I’m pleased to meet you, Annay. My name is Mary.”
I was a little taken aback; even I wasn’t that polite. I stood there a few moments and then I felt Hector’s elbow in my side. “I’m pleased to meet you too. Mary is a very pretty name.”
Mary smiled and threw her arms around me and squeezed me tight. I didn’t know what to do, but finally I put my hands around her too. Mary released me and looked up into my eyes. “You smell pretty.” She turned and ran back to the clump of kids.
Hector turned to me and smiled. I smiled back.
“Who wants a treat?” Hector called out. The kids gathered around him. “I brought treats for some of you, Annay brought them for the rest.” Hector started handing out treats and sending the other kids over to me.
Mary was the first to run over to me. As she did I noticed how skinny she was. She stopped in front of me a curtsied again. I reached into my bag and pulled out one of the oranges and one of the rolls. Mary took the orange and started to turn around.
“Mary, they’re both for you.”
Mary smiled at me. “Oh, thank you so much, but I can’t have any nuts – they make me sick. Thank you for the orange.” She skipped off.
I gave the other four children their orange and sweet roll, but the whole time I was really watching Mary. She sat on a barrel and struggle to get the orange’s peal off.
When all of the kids were off eating their treats, Hector walked over to me. “Here.” He handed me his bag and then nodded towards Mary. I looked in the bag and saw that it had a couple pieces of jerky in it. I looked up at Hector and he just nodded.
I slowly walked over to Mary and sat down in the dirt next to her.
“I have something else for you.” I opened the bag to show her its contents.
Mary smiled a big toothy smiled and reached in and took the two pieces of jerky. She then held one out to me. “You eat one. They’re so good” She held it there until I took it and then she started chewing on her own piece.
I sat there with Mary for ten minutes. We ate our jerky and I helped her finish peeling her orange. We talked about nothing and it felt great.
Later, as Hector and I walked back, I asked him, “Why did you give me the jerky?”
“Because I knew Mary would like it, and because I knew you would enjoy giving it to her, and because it was the right thing to do.”
“What do you mean the right thing to do?”
“You and I came down here together. We had a common mission – to meet some kids and make their day a little better. To do that we had to take care of each other and help each other to help them.”
“Even when I acted like a jerk in the store?”
“Especially then. I knew that I was bringing you into something you didn’t have any experience with. It would not have been very loving of me to let you just fail.”
“You wanted us to work together and I wanted to do it by myself.”
“True enough. Your desire to be an individual, to be in charge of what you were doing, kept you from being part of a community. I was letting God be in charge, so I was looking out for you.”
“And before, when I didn’t even want to help?”
“You were focused on yourself, on what you needed and wanted. You couldn’t even think about helping someone else because you felt insecure about your own situation. I felt that way too, the first time I met these kids. I had just been robbed and wanted my coin purse back, but God had other plans.”
“And why did you make me spend my own silver piece? These are your friends?”
“Two reasons. I wanted you to feel like this mattered to you personally. Sure, you gave up some time, but you gave your money too. If you had just come down and watched me interact with the kids it wouldn’t have meant anything to you. It was in giving that you could really experience the joy. What was the difference between giving the kids the oranges and giving Mary the piece of jerky?”
“The oranges weren’t special. I just grabbed them because they were the first things that seem good enough. The jerky was special to Mary. It wasn’t just a treat, it was a gift that said she is special enough to get a special gift.”
“The other reason was that I wanted you to see that your possessions can either be something that keeps you from helping others or the means to help them. You didn’t want to spend your silver piece, right?”
“But now that you did, are you glad? Would you have rather spent my silver piece to buy treats?”
“No. I’m glad I did. I just wish I would have listened to you and picked special gifts.”
“So, do you want you sliver piece back?”
I threw my arms around him as we walked, which made him quite uncomfortable.
“Do you still want to look at that apartment,” Hector asked as he pointed up the street.
I let go of him, which was probably his plan and ran up to the door. The sign was still there. As I read it, Hector knocked on the door of the adjoining house. A woman came to the door.
“Mrs. Jenkens, I think my friend might be interested in your apartment. This is Annay.”
Mrs. Jenkens walked over and greeted me. She told me the apartment was still available but that it was too dark to show it. She told me I could come down first thing in the morning to see it.
I can’t wait and I feel so good. I might have some place to live tomorrow and I was able to find the time to make some kids’ lives a little happier today. I wonder if Hector planned the whole thing.