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Monday, 12 March 2012

Give or Receive, Part 1


Jesus’ words are recorded in the book of Acts:  “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  My grandmother was aware of such blessing.
     She was born in 1907 in a fishing village in the Netherlands, and there were 10 children in her family growing up.  Her own mother was good at stretching her father's small weekly salary.  There was food on the table, and they were able to stay out of debt.
     She shared with me the days of the Second World War.  She was married and had children of her own.  She kept a large pantry of supplies to look after her family, non-perishable things like dried beans, oats, barley, flour, and so on.  Because of the war, sometimes people walked from the city and knocked on strangers' doors asking for food.  When they knocked on her door, she would give them a package of oats or a bag of barley to help them out.  As the war went on, they received ration cards in order to get groceries.  She had five children at that point, so always had plenty of these cards.  Each card allowed her to get a certain food item, such as potatoes or rice.
     One time she met a woman on the train.  Her husband was in the hospital with a serious stomach problem.  The hospital food during the war was even worse than usual!  This lady said, “If only I could get some rice for him; this is just what he needs to recover.” 
     “Well,” she replied, “I have vouchers for rice, and I would like to help you with that.”  Taking them from her purse, she handed them over.  She never expected that later on her eldest son would receive a bicycle from this family.  It turns out the man who was ill owned a bike shop!
     She was sometimes more generous than her husband would have liked.  At one point he said, “Pretty soon we won't have anything for ourselves,” but she was never worried about that.

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