I remember the first time I met her. We rode into town like knights in shining armor... with our idea of what to do and how to go about it. I remember vividly my fellow team members throwing a dirty old mattress off the balcony while others waited on the ground... ready to light it on fire. She put a stop to that in an instant. The look in her eyes said it all. What seemed like garbage to us was of use to the children who still had nothing to sleep on. Humbled and changed forever I watched as the old mattress was carried to it's new home... the room just down the hall.
In that moment I realized it was their house, not mine, and it was my job to serve as they wanted to be served... not as I thought they needed.
When I met Madre Estela Hernandez Patiño in 2001 she had 125 children in her care. There was hardly a moment when she wasn't dealing with something or someone... even throughout the night. She slept on a twin bed in her office and all night long little ones gravitated toward her in their sleepiness. The most she fit in her bed at one time, she told me, was five children plus herself! Madre's life, lived in total faith, was difficult. She lived in circumstances most of us can only imagine. In spite of that fact she never lost sight of God. After surviving cancer and other health issues over the years, a brain aneurism took her from Earth to Heaven in 2009.
Madre taught me so much about giving... and getting the most out of every day. She worked tirelessly and it was always for others. She did nothing for fame or money. She gave when she seemingly had nothing more to give. Madre was a living example of sacrificial living. She helped those who could give her nothing in return. She gave completely... and then some. I knew when I met her I would never be the same.
44 They all gave of that which was more than they needed for their own living. She is poor and yet she gave all she had, even what she needed for her own living.”
Here is a little song I wrote that was inspired by my work with Madre Estela and the impoverished, indigenous of southern Mexico.
Never Be The Same (Just push the play button below)