As a 60 year-old grandmother without private transportation, Chriselda had traveled a long way from her home in Khayelitsha (Cape Town’s largest township) to beg in the streets of Plumstead. So, I looked at Tony and quietly asked, “Babe, should we drive her to the store?” The rain had been relentless that week, and as we sat in our warm and dry car, I couldn’t bear the thought of her walking any further.
“Can we give you a lift to the shop?” Tony asked. Of course, she took us up on the offer and requested that we go to Shoprite. “It’s cheaper,” she said.
We pulled up to the store, and Tony glanced at me and said, “Well… Let’s go shopping.” While we were supposed to be on our way to meet the missions team for lunch, God took us on a little detour.
We shopped for the largest packages of parafin (kerosine), salt, sugar, rice, potatoes, carrots, oil, dish washing liquid and laundry detergent. We got chicken, bread and butter... and some cookies for the kids. The bill came to $50.
Chriselda piled the items into the cart, and being the realist I am, I asked her, “How are you going to get this stuff home?” We had to meet up with the team very soon, so we couldn’t take her all the way to Khayelitsha, and I was seriously concerned about her ability to transport a small mountain of groceries. In her thick Xhosa accent, she told me, “Do not worry. I put on my head.”
I didn’t doubt that she could balance and carry a full load on top of her noggin, but I knew she didn’t have a sack large enough to contain all of the groceries she selected. I also knew she probably wasn’t thinking about that. Her mind was more focused on the three starving grandchildren she had at home.
Chriselda cares for a 13 year-old boy, an eight year-old girl and a five year-old girl. Her two daughters are in Johannesburg looking for work. Fathers and husbands are nowhere to be found.
We went through the checkout lane, and on the way to the car, I said to Tony, “There’s no way she can carry all of this stuff!” “I know,” he said. “We’ll take her to the taxi rank.” Chriselda told us that her bus (the one heading to Khayelitsha Site C) left from the rank in Wynberg, so that’s where we proceeded to take her.
By this point, the three of us were very friendly with one another. Chriselda thanked us multiple times for helping her, and each time, we met her thanks with the assurance it was God's doing, not our own. I’ll never forget what she kept repeating during the drive to Wynberg. “I am in a dream! I am in a dream! See all of this food? It is mine! I own all of this food! I cannot believe it.”
I was blown away. Why her? Why not me?
We finally arrived at the taxi rank, and it brought back not-so-fond memories of the one in Manzini, Swaziland. We made our way to Chriselda’s stop, and helped her transport her bags from the car to the taxi van. I gave her our cell number, and she said she’d call us once she got home.
Fast forward four to five hours later, we’d eaten lunch with the team at a great restaurant in Noordhoek and taken them back to their accommodation so they could pack for their evening flight. We were on our way home when our phone rang. Tony answered, “Hello?”
It was Chriselda. Several hours later, she’d finally arrived back at her house. “Tony, it is me, Chriselda—the lady you took to the Shoprite. I am home!” Chanting was going on in the background. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” sang the three children.
When we received the phone call, honestly, we weren’t in the grandest of moods. We were tired, exhausted, worn out... at maximum capacity. Although our attitudes didn’t reflect the fact, we are always beyond blessed. Despite fatigue, our stomachs were full of amazing food, and we were traveling via car to our safe and comfortable abode.
Chriselda’s call reminded me of that, of what I’d so quickly forgotten—to be thankful, for little or for lots, because sincere gratitude is the secret to a content heart.