Last week after church we went to visit some less active families and investigators. At one of the homes we were visiting, we had been talking with several young adults who were family members. We were outside in a compound type area with several really humble shacks. They had gathered a few chairs and buckets for us to sit on. They told us there were 12 children in the family, and more and more people, siblings, kept coming from the shacks to join us. Then, a tall, thin, quiet, but colorfully dressed women walked out. She caught my attention because of the way she held herself. She was so majestic! She was the mother. I couldn’t help but think that this was an “elect lady”. It was like I could feel the essence of her spirit. Here in such humble circumstances, she has raised 12 children to adulthood! She has so little in the way of material goods, but she was a wealthy woman in all that truly matters. She sat among us, but said very little. It was obvious she spoke very little English. We were with a husband and wife from our church, Brother and Sister Khombane, and just as we were about to leave, I asked Sister Khombane if she would translate something into Setswana for me. I just had to talk to this woman. I took her hand and said, “You are a beautiful woman and you have a magnificent spirit.” She had no problem holding my gaze and receiving the compliment with a shy, but gracious manner.
We had turned to leave when I got the courage to ask to take a photo of her. It was purely selfish, I wanted a picture of her. Even in the picture, she has a penetrating gaze. She is surrounded by her treasures…her family, and just a small part of them at that. Surely they adore her. I have spent several years living among people in poverty. There is one thing that I find to be very consistent in the developing world, and that is that mothers are the backbone of society. If there is to be a breakdown in the family, it is very rarely the mother who causes it. When life gets tough, these women in poverty, these mothers, hold life together for their children. They are stable and strong, with a loyalty to their posterity that is as firm and as unmovable as the mountains. Their lives are spent in caring for others, and they do it quietly, and willingly. Their joy is found in relationships, not temporal goods. Most of them will not overcome poverty in this life, but then again, how do you define wealth? Peace, joy, serenity, purpose, children who rise up and call you blessed? As I said, this woman in her brightly colored skirt, who walked with an air of majesty, was a wealthy woman in all that truly matters. She, and millions other like her, are my heroes.