Blanca: A lesson in giving

Some odd amount of months ago, I started joining two of my close friends, Leah and Bekah for lunch every Tuesday at El Cholo in Santa Monica. Its on the same block as the church we all work at, and they have a sweet Tuesday margarita happy hour. The three of us have kept the tradition alive for some time and are often joined by other friends who have the luxury of taking Tuesday afternoons to hang out with us and gobble up guacamole. By the time I joined, the girls had already nabbed Blanca as our favorite server. Blanca is an incredibly kind woman, probably in her 50s or so, who we have all fallen in love with. We sit in her section every Tuesday for lunch, and she is undoubtedly El Cholo's finest.

Week in and week out, we are greeted with "Hola Senoritas!" and served whole heartedly by Blanca. She knows our orders, she goes above and beyond, and she has become a friend.

About two months ago we were enjoying our Tuesday tradition when half way through the meal our server changed. We didn't think much of it until the following week when we were reunited with Blanca. She caught us up and told us how, while she was serving the previous week, she had a bad fall in the kitchen at the restaurant and had injured her back. She told us, with tears in her eyes, that she was in a lot of pain and was having trouble working with the pain but, couldn't afford to take time off since she supported her son.

During the following weeks, we'd ask her about her back and get updates on how her physical therapy was going. After each time she'd share, our hearts would sink. This woman takes the bus across L.A. to support her family by working on her feet, serving folks like us at this Mexican restaurant, and she's always in pain because she just can't get a break.

As we were finishing up lunch one day I said to my friends "Gosh I wish I were rich!".  I don't typically think or say things of that nature but we all nodded in agreement, imagining what it would be like if we could drop a few thousand dollars in her lap and give her a month off, or if we could offer to pay for her physical therapy. It would be so nice to have the means to REALLY knock someone's socks off and provide for them. We all wanted to be able to do something significant to make things better for her but, rendered ourselves incapable due to the fact that all of us work for the church and aren't exactly rolling in the dough.

As Christmas time approached I thought that we should do something about it. I sent out an email to our little cluster of friends with the idea to give her a "Christmas Bonus" of whatever we could all afford to pitch in to bless her. Even if it wasn't much, it felt wrong to not TRY.

So we gathered up the dollars that each of us could afford to spare during the often financially stressful Christmas season, and gathered it up into a Christmas card for our Blanca. We got a group together to head into the restaurant on Tuesday as usual.  This Tuesday in particular, we had a large group and we couldn't actually fit at any tables in her section.


Oh well. We were set to pass on the gift anyway.

As the meal went on Blanca finally came around to say hello. She greeted us warmly as usual and took the time to make sure she wished us a "Merry Christmas". I clenched the envelope in my hand and waited for the right moment to say "Actually,Blanca, we have something for you. Merry Christmas".

Blanca didn't even know that it was more than a card and she was already in tears. She thanked us and told us she loved us; that we were her family. There wasn't a dry eye in the house as we all realized that she was THAT moved by... just a Christmas card?  Oh boy, who knew what she was going to do when she saw the pile of cash inside!

As our Pastor and friend Trevor came back from taking his kids to the bathroom, he asked "Have you seen Blanca yet?" . We said "No, why?". He told us she was around the corner just sobbing with the card in her hand.

All of us were a little nervous to see her. Sometimes its hard to give gifts isn't it? I hate seeing people open gifts I've given them for some reason, and we also didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable or like we were patting ourselves on the back. I was hoping to give her the card and bounce but, there she was, turning the corner heading straight towards us.

She approached Leah, Bekah and I with tears running down her face and we all started to cry, too. She hugged each of us for an extended period of time and humbled each of us with her gratitude.

Blanca said "You girls are my angels. I've always believed in God but, now I KNOW more than ever that He's real." and kissed us all on our tear-stained cheeks.

It was beautiful and such a special moment to know that she felt loved not only by us, but by God.  What was especially humbling about it was that the money ended up just being a few hundred dollars.  Just weeks earlier I had hesitated to give to her because I don't have thousands of dollars at my disposal.

But God didn't need thousands of dollars. All he needed was the willingness to share what we DID have to give, and He multiplied the effects of it.

Moral of the story: Don't refrain from giving because you don't feel like you have enough to give. Give what you can in faith, and watch God make it enough. 

Until Next Time, 

Carly Calmes the First