Thursday, November 3, 2011


I got home a little while ago to a freshly cleaned home.  Every other week, I pay Maria (Dona Gloria’s domestica) $500 pesos (approx US$13) to clean my apartment. 
For me, this is not an easy thing.  As I’ve shared, I live in a studio apartment.  Am I really saying that I cannot keep one room and one bathroom where only one person lives, clean?  In my mind, having someone else clean my home says I am too incompetent, lazy, above myself, to take care of myself.    

I remember when my mom was in the hospital following her first mastectomy.  Mom called me (from her hospital bed!) and told me some women from the church were coming over to clean our house.  She was calling to tell me, as the oldest at age 10, to clean things up before they got there.  She was emphatic - I don’t want them thinking my house is a mess!   
(I have to admit, before Maria comes, I empty my own trash, wipe down the counters, tidy things up… Hey, what can I say?  I am my mom’s daughter!)

So, my pride fought against having Maria clean.  My thriftiness, too.  After all, I am a ‘faith missionary’ which means all my support is provided by others.  How can I consider spending $26.00 each month on something I am perfectly capable of doing myself?  What will my supporters think?
Maria has two children.  Her son, Juan Pablo (12), has issues with his kidneys.  I’m not sure what his diagnosis is, but he is on a salt-free diet and becomes quite weak at times.  He has to go to Santiago (45 minutes away) for frequent visits to a specialist.  That means finding money for gas, for the doctor, and for the prescriptions.  I’m not sure if Maria’s husband has full-time employment or not. 

You may think I should just give her some money for her situation.  But, simply handing her money would rob her of dignity and healthy pride in a job well done.  By paying her to clean my apartment, I am allowing Maria to use her skills and talents to provide for her son and daughter.
It may seem odd, but I believe having Maria clean is in keeping with my life as a Christ-follower.  His life taught us that there is a time to serve, but there is also a time to allow others to serve us.

Jesus could have helped Himself to well water.  Or, created water to quench His thirst!  Instead, He invited the Samaritan woman to serve Him, and in doing so, she received the gift of Living Water. 
Did His disciples understand what He was doing hanging out in the midday sun with a woman of questionable character?  Nope.  But, Jesus knew what she needed, and if others were scandalized, that was beside the point. 

And so, I will continue to have Maria clean my apartment.  What’s more, even though I don’t need to have my car washed, starting this week, I will pay Dona Gloria’s gardener to wash it every Saturday.
He is deaf and more than 70 years old in a country without a lot of aid for the elderly.  He has very little opportunity to earn money.  Dona Gloria pays him to water her flowers and do light yard work.  She also feeds him breakfast and lunch. 

I’m sure she could find someone better suited for the work, but she wants to help him in a way that maintains his dignity, too.  Do I need him to clean my car?  Any of you who ever saw the very (very!) dirty Corolla know I really could care less about a clean vehicle.  But does he need to have the opportunity to be paid to clean it?  Yeah, I think maybe he does.

1 comment:

  1. As soon as I read that you had hired a cleaning lady, I thought, "That's wonderful!" for the reasons you described so well:-).