May 15

My Friend Maria

AAB Caroline

I met my friend, Maria, 11 years ago at one of my food truck sites at the William Mead housing project known as “Dogtown.” This housing project neighbors the infamous twin tower prison in downtown Los Angeles. The other three sides of the housing project are surrounded by factories, warehouses, sweatshops, and railroad tracks.

Maria immigrated to America from Guatemala in her 20′s, working in convalescent homes until she retired in her 60′s because she lost her vision. The first time I met Maria, I fell in love with her. She had one of the kindest, sweetest spirits of anyone I had ever met. Each day she sits in a chair on her porch and waits, hoping that someone will visit her.

AAB CarolineI love bringing my kids to visit Maria. As she tells stories of growing up in Guatemala and what life was like there, it transplants my kids to a different mindset. One of my favorite memories is when she told my kids that at eight years old she would wash a whole basket full of dirty diapers in the river for one penny. She was so excited for her penny because a penny could buy two pieces of fruit. She would run with excitement to spend it on a mango and an orange.

These stories mesmerize my children and teach them countless lessons. As we end each visit, we pray together and Maria always cries in joy of God’s goodness. I always ask her if there is anything we can do for her or if she is in need of anything. She says the visits are all that she wants, and that they bring her so much joy and excitement.

It reminds me of Galatians 6:10 ”Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.”

By Enrique Leon

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