A new customer at the small-town pharmacy where I work said she was going on a mission to Ecuador. I had always yearned go on a mission myself, so I offered to join her. I didn’t know what would be involved or what the people and culture would be like, so I researched the country before leaving.
Ecuador is full of friendly people. I worked hard lugging pharmacy totes full of prescriptions to and from the bus each day for two weeks, usually to a different rural village. We provided lots of vitamins, analgesics, parasite remedies, blood pressure medication, antibiotics, and medicines for diabetics. The people we served otherwise would not have been able to afford them. I also carried small items in my purse to give away.
After we finished our work in a village one day, we waited for the bus to drive us back for a well-deserved shower and supper. As we waited, a friend and I decided to go for a little walk within sight of the others. A young man with cerebral palsy greeted me. Though slightly scared, I returned his greeting. He looked like he needed a comb, so I took one from my purse and gave it to him.
He looked so pleased and excited that I thought he might call out the entire neighborhood. Then he asked me to wait as he went into his modest home. His mother peeked out at us. I wondered what he would do.
Now it was my turn to be surprised; he came out with a large bunch of bananas. I said “muchas gracias” and indicated that I was grateful to him and his family. To me, the comb was just one of many I handed out in a day, something we take for granted back home. In exchange for such a little thing, I received a truly generous gift.
It was so hot that I knew the bananas wouldn’t keep long. I had to figure out how to use them or give them away. Then I thought of the shoeshine guys along the street. They only make 75 cents a shine, and work hard in the hot sun to make shoes look as good as new. I walked down the street with an armful of bananas, handing them out to everyone. It was gratifying, something I will always remember.
I went on the mission to help make the world a better place and improve the quality of life for the people I’d meet. Starting with his friendly greeting and ending with a gift, this young man helped me share good feelings with so many people. He made my heart a better place.