It was a hot July afternoon and I was physically exhausted. I’d spent the past six days tarring a roof and installing a full bathroom with a team of people for a widow who had lived in her small house on the side of a mountain. All around us were breathtaking views of tree-covered Kentucky mountains.
The woman had been using an outhouse.
Yes. I said an outhouse.
A team a few weeks earlier had installed a kitchen sink, while another team the week before built an addition for a bathroom. My team repaired her roof while the rest of the team started running the pluming and electrical, installing insulation, and putting up drywall.
By the seventh day, we walked her into her newly finished bathroom and she immediately ran to the toilet and flushed.
She was crying and thanking us over and over for a working toilet.
She then began pulling produce from her garden and started frying the only meat she had left in her 1970’s fridge. She said she “don’t have no money” but could cook us a “home cooked Kentucky supper.” We were soon sitting down in her living room eating real Kentucky fried chicken, homemade gravy, beans, and mashed potatoes.
Let me tell you, it was GOOD.
This experience reminds me of the widow’s offering:
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” ~Mark 12:41-44
This widow, who yesterday lived in a house with no toilet or shower, offered us every ounce of food she had left to thank us for our work.
I’ve had many life-changing experiences serving people through a number of mission trips throughout my life. But the one week I spent in eastern Kentucky working on the widow’s house has deeply impacted me everyday since.
When I have to shovel my driveway of snow and I’m freezing cold or it’s the day of the week that I clean bathrooms (ugh), I think of the widow who had to brave sometimes harsh eastern Kentucky winters, shoveling snow to make a path to her outhouse (and scare off an occasional bear) just to use the restroom.
When I’m annoyed that I have a pile of dishes to clean up, I think of the widow who didn’t have a kitchen sink until she was old enough to be my grandmother.
When I have my own Kentucky mountain made of clothes to wash, dry, fold, and put away, I think of the widow who washed her clothes in a stream and dried them on a line outside her back door.
I have a toilet that flushes.
I have a kitchen sink.
I have a warm home.
I have food in my pantry.
I am so so so blessed. You are too.
Remember the widow.