Sunday, November 13, 2011

Giving People a Second Chance Takes on Many Forms

She is a pretty girl. And she is young. I would guess that she is in early 20s’. She came to the free eye clinic we offered in one of the small communities near Mission, Texas last week. The poverty in several Texas counties bordering Mexico is overwhelming. I know there are politicians that have all of the answers regarding immigration and the issues that surround it. But the reality is that there are very poor people struggling to subsist on both sides of the International Bridges that connect us to Mexico.



This particular young lady came to the eye clinic already wearing a pair of glasses. That is actually pretty unusual. We normally see people that can’t read or should not be driving! They have no access to proper optical care. This young lady was wearing a pair of large glasses with thick black rims. They looked like the eyeglasses my dad wore in the 1960’s when we lived outside of Chicago.


She told our optometrist at the free clinic that her glasses were government-issue. At first he did not know what she meant. But he figured it out. She received her glasses in prison. There were several tell tale signs that she had been incarcerated. The girl showed up so she could get some glasses that looked like something a 20 something would wear.


We took some before and after pictures. I will not publish them for privacy purposes. But I will say that the change was dramatic. I hope that this young lady is able to view herself in a different light. I hope that her life script from this point on will be different. Will a pair of glasses make a difference? If you saw her that day, you might actually think so! I think a pair of glasses given by loving people that really care is a good thing.


I think we sometimes think that people have to reach a certain standard before we can help them. Or they have to be “trying” in ways that we perceive to be important. It is almost as if we are checking “spiritual id’s” at the door before we allow admission.  I am sure there are individuals that would think we were wasting time fitting that girl in donated eyeglasses that look approriate.


I learn something new every time I go on a medical mission trip. (And I have been on a bunch of them!) This year I relearned the importance of accepting people where they are. I was reminded once again that we are called to serve people period. And that includes very young adults that have been convicted of felonies.


Are people going to take advantage of our good nature? Yes. Are we going to get burned? Yes. Is that a good excuse to stay home and do nothing? No…  Giving people a second chance takes on many forms.

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