Thursday, August 15, 2013

Little Things that Make a Big Difference

Yesterday morning as I ran errands I stopped by Mas x Menos, a local grocery store.  I walked in to discover that every senior citizen in Desamparados was there, or at least it felt like it. It all made sense when I remembered it was Wednesday and that meant it was it was Miercoles Fresco (Fresh Wednesday), which meant daylong specials on various items throughout the store.  Half of the time they are nothing to write home about, but the other half they have some great deals.  Yesterday was one of the days they had some great deals.  The best one was fresh boneless, skinless, chicken breast for 2,950 colones per kilogram (about $3/pound), the usual price is 5,100 colones per kilogram (just over $5/pound).  So since we tend to eat a lot of chicken and have freezer space to store it I bought 5 kilos of chicken breasts.

Due to some recent events at our ministry sites, preparing for our fall semester program, and the constant desire and quest to be more effective (whatever that means, but that is a blog post for another day) in our ministry sites I have been thinking a lot about poverty and the various cycles we see repeated in the communities we work in.  As I drove home from Mas x Menos I started to think about the little things that made it possible for me to take advantage of a good deal.  Little things that make a big difference, things that I have in my favor that many of my friends, here, do not.

I was able to get to the store to take advantage of the sale.  Transportation is something we tend to take for granted until we don’t have it.  I like to remind our student teams that being able to ride the bus is often a privilege.  Owning your own car is a never realized dream for many.  But the fact that I drove to the store meant that I did not have to think twice about how I was going to get the 11 pounds of chicken home.  I certainly would not want to carry it and the other items I purchased as I walked to the bus stop, climbed on the bus, fumbled for change to pay the bus, stood up on the full bus, and then walked from the stop to my house.  After all they don’t make those plastic grocery bags as strong as they used to!

I knew that we had room in the freezer to be able to store the chicken until we needed it.  I also knew that while money tends to be tight these days we had enough in our bank account to be able to make this unplanned purchase that will in the long run save us money.  Forget living paycheck to paycheck, I have been reminded lately how many of my friends are living moment to moment not knowing where the next meal is coming from.  Many of them would have been thrilled to get one chicken breast, let alone 11 pounds.

There are probably many other “little things” that combined to make it possible for me to buy that chicken.  Little things that don’t seem like a big deal like transportation, freezer space, and a few dollars in a banking account, but that make a big difference.  So often as we walk alongside people the world has forgotten I want to make a big difference or do something that will drastically change reality for people I have come to love dearly.  But yesterday as I put the chicken in the freezer I found myself thinking, “How can we empower someone with something little, that will make a big difference?” --Jeff