A part of the work that I enjoy the most at the mission is a bi-weekly practice I call speccing jobs. Its a time when I hop in a green truck, sometimes with another mission worker, and go out to visit with potential homeowners to determine if their situation/ conditions are a good match for receiving help from the mission. Recently while visiting one of many clients we have on a long waiting list, I experienced one of the rare times, in roughly 2000 visits, where I found myself caught up in the plight of this new friend.
“Mrs. Smith” was a divorced woman of 57 years old who was taking care of her 34 year old bi-polar son and her granddaughter. She was a polite and very receptive woman to the offer of our help in replacing her hot water tank. She described that its been tough taking sponge baths in the sink for the past 4 months with a wash cloth. This was a straight forward, “easy” spec I thought to myself as my mind was preoccupied with moving on to the next visit. We started filling out paperwork and I explained to her that due to our current schedule, help in this case should be coming in about three or four days. She described to me that it would be best to keep in touch as to when we would be arriving because she would be going into the hospital. In my hurriedness I said ok I will and could you please sign here and here.
I stood up, shook her hand, and started for the door while smiling and thanking her for the visit. I decided to ask her what she was going into the hospital for and this is when the real visit began. She calmly said she was diagnosed with cancer three days ago and had to get some more tests done. She now had my attention. Shame on me. I asked her what type of cancer it was and she said she had three baseball sized cysts in her abdomen and that it was Ovarian cancer. I tried harder than any of the other visits I have made in the past 19 years to maintain my composure, but I became almost overwhelmed with emotion and had to turn away for a moment. I cried. I had lost my mom to Ovarian cancer three years ago and it really hit home. Her spirit was broken but her strength to want to care for her kids was remarkable. She had gone without hot water for four months and just wanted to take a hot shower before her doctor’s visit the next day. I prayed with her and said I would be in touch. She had hot water that same night, on Ash Wednesday.
I was excited to share this story with the staff! I was excited to be in a position to help this child of God. I am proud to work at a mission that can bring this simple type of help immediately. We are fortunate to have relationships with businesses that are in a position to donate the materials to install it. This visit once again reminded me that poverty of spirit can hide its face and we really have to look hard for it sometimes. You see, this woman had an income of only $8,000 a year and her house was impeccable. This visit reminded me once again that the mission is a hand that can open the doors to Hope in a persons life.
-Brian Hetzer, mission worker