Lentil Soup And A Taste of Humility

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We first met this couple this past Winter at a Spanish church we attended at the request of the Pastor. He had invited us for worship and a barbecue afterwards. My husband and I had been somewhat instrumental in securing the property where this growing church was establishing roots. Having gone to the same large church on and off for about 15 years, we thought it would be good for us spiritually to experience a different culture and meet new people even if it was only on a few Sundays a year.

Walking in that Sunday, we were unsure of ourselves as we made our way to the back of the makeshift sanctuary in the garage so as not to cause a distraction. This church was starting from scratch with a  few chairs, musical instruments and a lot of hope. We had a few people look us over and give us a look of disdain wondering what we were doing there. We had a few people who came right up to us and hugged us. It was a small congregation of about  30 people. After the service we were introduced to a reserved, but confident couple that sat in the front row (names withheld for their privacy). He dressed in dress pants and shirt and tie. She dressed in dress pants shirt and blazer. Their Sunday best. It seemed as if they held high standards in dressing their best for church on Sunday. I was impressed by how welcoming and sweet they were to us.

We attended the Spanish church again that following Sunday. We again met up with the sweet couple from the previous week. We learned they were the proud owners of their own cleaning business. I was impressed at how this couple worked together as a team. Little did I know then, their story would continue to inspire me 6 months later.

Fast forward to Summer. The church closed it’s doors unable to continue spiritually and financially. The property I helped to secure for my good friend now sat empty. It just so happened that the sweet couple had become friends with the property owner and needed a place to move to. They had been living in an un-permitted garage. The landlord charged them an unreasonable (in my opinion) amount of rent. The couple had lived there for five years. During this time, some of their cleaning equipment had been stolen, the landlord came in one day and exchanged their larger refrigerator with a small dorm size refrigerator claiming the other refrigerator used too much energy, the landlord increased their rent occasionally if they felt the couple was using too much electricity, half of the outlets in the garage / living space didn’t work, and the oven quit working many years ago. Oh…and dealing with cockroaches. “That was the final straw for her“, she said.

My friend asked my opinion about renting to the couple. I definitely thought it was a win-win.

For a month now, my husband and I along with my friend and the couple have been trying to help clean the property and convert it back to a single family home. Its been somewhat trying at times running a business and dealing with my eye disease, but hearing their story has deeply inspired us and we wanted to help our friend. I heard much more of their story this weekend and it took my heart to a whole different level .

About five years ago, this couple had both lost their jobs. They were homeless living in their car. She told me they  went to their church and had asked the Pastor to help them as they had nowhere to go. He told them he couldn’t help them. They asked an Aunt if they could rent a room from her and she thought it wasn’t a good idea. They were homeless living in their car and bathing at a local park. Each day they would go and look for work. Finally, they were offered jobs at a company who cleaned offices after hours. After saving enough money working at the cleaning job, they rented the garage space they called home.

As she was telling me this story I was outraged that this landlord could treat them so callously over the past five years. I was determined to get the new house ready for them to move into this past weekend. I told them I thought we should go right over and move their things out of the garage space. She told me they had promised the landlord they would stay until the 10th of the month and they also wanted to repaint the walls and clean the space properly. I could my believe my ears. “Do you know everything the landlord has done is illegal? She has treated you so poorly. She is overcharging you and treated you with such disrespect! You shouldn’t pay her one more penny.”   Her reply was “She didn’t know us and took a chance on us when not even our Pastor would. We have to set an example in our lives and do the right thing even when someone else doesn’t.”  I was dumbfounded  . Shocked in fact. I was also ashamed. How could I have missed this? I stayed quiet and continued to work letting her words soak into my mind.

We finished the house last night. It is all set for them to move in this week. The wife left for a little bit before dinner and came back with a couple of bags of groceries. She overheard my husband say he loved lentil soup. After working a full day, she had gone to the grocery store to buy the ingredients for lentil soup to make for us for her first meal to cook and serve in her “new” kitchen. She made the soup homemade along with corn tortillas. My husband, friend and I were served first sitting at a card table with canvas folding chairs my husband keeps in his work truck. The piping hot soup was served in bowls that didn’t match. The wife ate her soup out of a mixing bowl because she only had 4 soup bowls. It was one of the best meals I have had. The flavor was good, but the fellowship was what I liked the best.

 

I walked through my door last night into our 2800 square foot home neatly decorated for Fall. I had left our house clean and I looked around at how very blessed are, but I also had a bit of sadness. My husband asked me what was wrong. I couldn’t explain it. He just looked at me and said “I know what you mean.” We didn’t have to talk about it. Sometimes we all need  a taste of humility and a dose of contentment. I am so proud to call this couple our friends. We come from very different backgrounds, but have so much to learn from one another. Sometimes knowing someone from a different background helps us learn who we are. Don’t you think?

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