“The nuns trust us!” The Gringos folding clothes at the Catholic Orphanage here in Mexico were elated. For weeks a team of 30+ have met at the complex to clean, repair, demolish, reconstruct and paint what has been ignored for decades. We are faithful in showing up and diligent in this massive undertaking.
In spite of that, the nuns remained cautious about opening the Bodega, a storage unit the size of a three-car garage crammed with bags of donated clothing. Fearing that we, like dozens of other groups, are fly-by-nights, they would not risk their treasures being stolen. After all, this was money for them. The clothes they reject are either sold as hand-me-downs or as rags.
But this week was different. The elderly nun showed up with the cherished Bodega key to allow Peter, our organizer, to peek inside. Immediately he pulled Alison off my paint crew and asked her to check it out. Alison’s main job at another orphanage is to organize its Bodega, and she’s good at it, but she never expected to see a mess of this magnitude.
Where to start? Fumigation. With floor-to-ceiling mounds of garbage bags, some which have been there for years, one could only guess what critters were nesting in the piles. Once that task was finished, seven women were assigned to the Bodega.
Peter purchased folding tables, and it was there the ladies labored over each bag. Oddly, it was the nun who was the pickiest about what clothes were kept. When a cute pair of girl’s jeans was pulled from a bag, it was she who told the volunteers those jeans were “out of style.” The nun had an opinion on every article of clothing or material the women unpacked.
By the third week, the ladies were elated when the nun had errands to run and left them alone. No longer was she concerned that the items would be stolen or put in the wrong bag. They had earned her trust. Word spread and our entire volunteer community celebrated.
When the nun confided in Peter that two teenage girls were becoming defiant and disrespectful, Peter had to convince them that he could provide a psychologist to help. Gradually, when the nuns realized that Peter was committed to doing what was best for the orphanage, their trust in him increased. It was then they gave him permission to paint the entire complex.
Trust is a must. No matter who is involved.
Nun with volunteer. Parent with child. Boss with employee. Spouse with spouse. Teammate with teammate. Coach with athlete. Teacher with student. Friend with friend. Doctor with patient. Pilot with passengers. Christian with God.
Viable relationships are dependent on such confidence.
Yet sometimes those we trust let us down, don’t they? And we feel betrayed. We forget that all of us are sinners and ignore Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart…”
Not the itsy-bitsy, happy-heart corner that celebrates when we find a parking spot or lose a pound, but “all” of our heart, even the part—especially the part– that aches when things aren’t lining up the way we know they should be (and would be in a perfect world). We are to trust, the practical outworking of faith, to allow God to fumigate the trash we have accumulated in order to give us a fresh start. For some of us, that task, like the bodega, seems overwhelming. Fortunately, God doesn’t see it that way. All He asks is that we give Him the key so He can start.
One bag at a time.