In a slum in Laferrere on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. We had been there for a few months and for us, the little brothers, those were our first steps on Argentinian soil. Which little shack should we head for now? Which destitute family should we beg our daily bread from? On the dirt road, a woman came up to us. “Hola!”1 So we dared to ask her. She listened to us and smiled at once, when she realized what it was about. “How Providential, to have missionaries coming to our house, into our home!” How Providential, that was her answer, and it said everything. Swept away with joyful excitement, she urged us to follow her; the house was just a few yards away. We came inside, into the largest room. A girl of about ten or so was sitting at the table. The mother motioned to her to come closer and say hello to us, while she was explaining to her that these two missionaries were going to eat with them this afternoon. She asked her to quickly go to the little corner store and buy what was necessary for the meal. They whispered something to each other that we couldn’t hear. The child ran out of the room…
When the little girl came back, she had what she bought in her arms. Her mother hurried to set the table. Preparing everything as if for a feast. For her, the visit of these two missionaries was a visit from Heaven. Thank you for visiting us! It happens so often, at the very moment that we begin to say thank you, that we hear these words from those who have invited us into their homes! We stayed nearly two hours with them. We spoke a lot… about faith in God. About the faith that strengthens people in the face of adversity, and of the daily trials that a family living in a slum has to go through: for months now the father had been out of work… and the children had to be fed; the family found it very difficult to survive. But a mother’s heart cannot falter. Great was her faith; it rested upon the Rock, God, the Good One, the very Good One who didn’t desert them.
We prayed together, asking for abundance, an overabundant supply of blessings for this family. We left deeply moved, but also encouraged by the way the mother bore witness to her faith… we were planted solidly upon the rock of trust.
Five years later. We came back to Laferrere, but this time to live there, in a small house. One day, we were walking around in the neighborhood when a young girl called out to us along the way. She came up to us and said, “Do you remember me? Because I remember you! Five years ago two missionaries – they were dressed just like you! – came to our house. On that day, we didn’t have anything left to eat in the house… Mom sent me out to buy things for the meal, and she asked me to buy on credit… Then she prepared a meal, fit for a holiday, and we all ate together. But… but what you don’t know is that after your visit, my dad found some work! And since that day we have never lacked food at the house! …
Yes, we do remember, but we didn’t know to what degree the mother had shared with us on that day. She too, like the widow in the Gospel, had given everything she had. In an act of absolute gratuitousness. In an immense trust in Providence.
1 Translation: Hello!