Why is it that people who have so little, are so willing to give so much?
Take Mikael and Yyeta from the Salt and Sea Mission. An older Russian couple who has lived in Coney Island for the last 14 years, I met them last week at a ministry that hands out food pantry bags to those who attend a worship service before opening to the public. Probably in their 80s, Mikael and Yyeta have been modestly (but warmly!) dressed in the same clothes both times I met them.
** SIDE NOTE: Scratch that, Yyeta was wearing a different hat both times, and asked me repeatedly how I liked the purple one she was wearing that first day. I thought that purple was a great color on her, and it really brought out the blue of her amazing eyes. Today I complimented her rainbow hat as soon as she walked in the door and then she kissed me.**
Mikael danced during each song we sang as a group, and "hit" me with the maraca every chance he got. Vibrant and passionate about life, I enjoyed our shaky attempt at a conversation through the Russian accents and Mikael's limited English.
This is a couple very obviously in love, but almost as obviously struggling to make ends meet. Even though they are together, they each collect food separately when the food pantry opens and volunteers pass out items. The funny thing though, is that they ALWAYS give away the second item and walk out with one item for the two of them.
Last week Mikael gave me a small comb with a goat on it made out of white stone.
Take Liev, a vibrant Ukrainian immigrant who also lives in Coney Island. This is my second time meeting him as well, and both times he has tried to share his food pantry items with me. Today he offered me his can of orange juice and box of cereal. Last week he would have given me his entire bag had I let him.
Darryl, a recovering drug addict who is trying to secure work, yearns to pour his life into everyone he meets. Today he told me his story and how turning his life around has given his siblings the motivation to change their own lives.
So again, I ask, how is it that people who have so little, have no reservations about giving so much? I am hard-pressed to separate myself from the luxuries of this world, and take so much for granted. But these people struggle to make ends meet, and are willing to bless perfect strangers without batting an eye. They literally empty their pockets in sacrifice when the offering plate comes around, and I struggle to part with even just my excess.