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 Beauty for ashes

Maria doesn’t have much.  She and her husband Juan make less than $1000 a month, and have four children to raise.  What Maria does have, however, is a heart for the Lord.  Many years ago, He placed women on her heart.  Women, who like herself, don’t have much but are doing the best that they can.  These women carry the burden of the poverty that they are living in.  The men usually take off when their women can’t have any more babies.  To hold on to their men, women start having babies as soon as they can—usually around age 14 or 15—and keep having babies as long as possible, just so their man won’t leave.  He leaves anyway, and the women are left to try to feed, clothe and educate the children.  Often they have no education themselves, but want better for their children, and so they try.

There is a community of these women who work in the city dump, mining through the trash to find recyclables.  It is grueling, backbreaking work.  They work 10-12 hours a day, and most of them are lucky to take home $80 a month.  Their hands are crippled from arthritis.  Their health has been compromised.  Their government refuses to acknowledge their existence—“If I don’t look at you, you’re not there.”  They have no self-esteem…most of them won’t even look you in the eye. 

Maria sees them.  She sees their beauty.  Their worth in the sight of the Lord.  She runs a women’s center where the women are welcome to come, every day, any time.  They come for someone to listen to them.  They come for a meal.  They come for counseling, for medication, for parenting advice…they just come.

Every Thursday, Maria fixes them breakfast.  Twice a month they have Bible study.  Once a month they have a class—it might be a nutrition class teaching them to make nutritious meals for their families with the resources that they have, or a class on personal hygiene where they learn the importance of bathing and keeping themselves clean, or maybe a class on how to keep your home clean and inviting, no matter how little or how much you have.  Classes that help to raise their self esteem by seeing them for the strong capable women that they are.  And once a month, they have a craft class, where they learn to create. 

During one of the classes, Maria noticed a little old lady sitting at the end of the table with her craft project in front of her.  She wasn’t working, but rather had her face in her hands, and her shoulders shaking with sobs.  Concerned, Maria went to sit down next to her and asked her what was wrong, thinking maybe there was something going on at home, or with her job, or a medical condition that she didn’t know about.  The sweet little lady looked up and held out her battle-scarred hands.  “For the first time in my life, I have realized that these hands are good for more than the trash.  These hands can create beauty.”


“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.”~Isaiah 61:3

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Added On 04/30/2015 
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