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The rake that Jose fixed

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Rastrillo reconstrido. It’s Spanish for repairing a plain old rake for working your garden.

So what? A lot, actually.

I needed a rake and couldn’t find one, so I sought help from my new friend Jose. He’s a single, middle-aged Mexican who lives onsite at Casa Hogar Dulce Refugio (Sweet Refuge), the orphanage in Aguascalientes, Mexico, where I work.

I knew I could count on Jose because he’s always trying to help out and has a consistently positive attitude in spite of living in a small, dark space that should properly be used for custodial storage.

It didn’t take Jose long to find the head of a rake buried in some tall grass next to the dorm. No handle, only the head – and that in two pieces, wired together. He also located a handle of sorts, which was okay except that the end was sort-of flattened. In Canada, most people wouldn’t have given that rake a hope of reconstruction, but Jose was game.

I was thinking of jamming in a short piece of rebar to pin the rake head into the handle, but Jose had other ideas. He found a piece of wire and set about wiring the rake head to the handle. With a smile, he proudly presented the repaired rake to me. I responded with a sincere “gracias” and proceeded to put this tool through the paces of raking gravel.

It worked for a while and then the inevitable happened: the rake head slipped out of the handle. Jose quickly wired it together again. I continued with my work…until the rake came apart again. This time, Jose drove a concrete nail through the handle and wired the rake head to the nail. This remained effective until the two parts of the broken head came out of alignment.

Now, Jose did what I had been thinking (but not saying). He took the rake to a welder who attached a piece of rebar across the entire width of the rake. At last, the rake remained intact and useful to me.

I learned a lot from this experience. As a guest in his country, I owed it to Jose to help me solve my problem in a way he thought best. That rake had looked useless to me but Jose saw its potential. I am a broken person but God sees potential in me and is willing to work with me to keep on making me whole, much as Jose was willing to keep on fixing that old rake.

Jose went about his task with a positive approach, which is how I think God approaches me, even when I “come apart.” God wants to get me to a place where I am useful and remain that way.

Sure, I bear the battle scars of life just like the old rake, but God can and will use me in spite of how I might look to other people. He is not hung up on appearances, but is focused on integrity and availability for me to be his tool in his vineyard.

I want to become more like Jose in how I deal with life’s problems.

Albert Janzen is a member at Northview Community Church, Abbotsford, B.C. This reflection comes from his experiences on a six-month assignment with Children of Hope in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

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