Patience is a tough word.
On occasion, my kids have the ability to earn a little income. The younger ones want to immediately take their earnings, even if it’s just a dollar or two, to the store to buy something. Their love of the “dollar aisle” at our local megastore leads to purchasing small toys that inevitably break in a day or two. Patience is a tough lesson to learn, but the older children have learned to save their money and buy something with a little more longevity.
Patience is a word we try and teach our kids, but sometimes shy away from when it comes to our own character building.
Transport your mind to the beautiful wine country of Argentina for a second. This valuable trait of patience comes through the simple art of cooking. Actually, “grilling”. One thing about having an Argentine asado (a cookout, BBQ, etc.), is the fact it is an all afternoon or evening event. Cooking Argentine beef takes time. You take a walk early in the day to the carniceria (butcher shop) and pick out your cuts. Then, you lather it up in rock salt and let it sit for a bit. Then comes the fire. Slow prep of the wood, nice and steady. This is true culinary art. The coals have to be just right before the meat is placed on the grill. Once it is, it’s another hour or two or three until the meat has been slow cooked to perfection.
This is when the practice of patience comes in.
Everyone talking, relaxing, enjoying each other’s company as all watch the dinner from their peripheral view be slowly prepared. Mouths are watering, but all know it will be worth the wait. The Asador (the master at the grill) is slowly planning, prepping, and preparing the feast. And soon enough, when it is time to dive in, the common tradition is to give a loud cheer and round of applause to the Asador. It was worth the wait!
Then there is the other lesson of patience which arrives most weekday mornings and evenings.
Oh man! Not my favorite way to spend early mornings or late afternoons. Bumper to bumper mornings are draining. I’d much rather be enjoying some pancakes and coffee than to sit behind a semi-truck, breathing in diesel exhaust fumes. But I know somehow, my patience is growing in these times.
So, whether it is the communal patience waiting for an Argentinian feast, or the practice of patience sitting in traffic, we can learn a few things from these tests. These times can be used for listening. These times cause me to pause my daily hustle and bustle. I’ve also learned to use these times to plan – for the rest of my day. For the future. For what is to come.
Like Liezl Villagracia: a 32-year-old mother of two, and wife of a coconut farmer who lives in Napaod in the Philippines.
Savings as a Stepping Stone
Given that her husband is a coconut farmer, and she is a full-time mom, they must rely upon a minimal seasonal income to provide for their needs. This is where she matched persistent challenge with patient planning, and began to save for “rainy days.” It wasn’t easy–one of her daughters, Hermoine, had been diagnosed with a kidney problem and needed long-term medication. During those days, Liezl admitted she had no emergency funds for her family. But by joining one of Food for the Hungry’s savings groups, she began slowly and patiently saving funds for their family’s needs and challenges.
Whereas before she struggled in her savings, Liezl soon stepped up to the challenge of cultivating a savings habit and meeting weekly with her group. Soon, she was elected chairwoman of her group of 16 members, and applied for a loan to start a small shoe store. Her loan capital was used to buy and sell products like slippers and shoes, which she sells in front of their house. After two months, she was able to repay her loan in full! Today, her family together runs the shoe store, and the small business has been growing steadily.
It took some patience, especially in the beginning. But she has consistently utilized patient trials for practical planning.
She seems to be living out the verses from James 1:2-4, which states the following:
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
When we let patience do its work, a few other things begin to develop in our life. Things which contribute to Christ-like character, perseverance, and to us “lacking nothing.” Liezl’s patient practice of saving has brought stability and breathing room to her family. Whether it’s for those “rainy days” when one of her children are sick, or when there is a shortage in her husband’s work, she can have a greater sense of peace and rest. She knows her patience is leading to a perfect work, accomplished by our perfect God.
Learn more about Food for the Hungry’s work in economic empowerment.