Her name is Florence. She is a native Bahamian who earns her living by making straw souveniors for the tourists. Because of the economy in the US, Bahama’s tourism has been hit hard. We were able to travel there because of the low prices they were offering to get people to come down. We met Flo one hot, sunny afternoon because her friend was out scouting for customers for her. This was what Joyce did day after day. She looked for tourists, asked them if they wanted to buy nice Bahamian gifts and led them to her friend Florence.
We agreed to go with her before we knew what we were getting ourselves into. We ended up walking about 2 miles out of our way to a group of about 50 tin huts, most of them being deserted a long time ago by the faint at heart. As we were walking out beyond the gate of the “safe” shopping district, past burned-out cars and men that looked like they knew we had some money, i kept thinking, “What are we doing? What danger am i putting my kids in? is this smart?” But a voice kept saying to me, “Keep going. This isn’t about you today.”
So onward we walked until we came to Florence’s hut. Joyce encouraged us to walk in and i couldn’t believe what it saw. Hundreds of hats, purses, money holders, placemats, dolls and other assorted items on the tables and hanging from the ceiling. It was obvious business had been slow as of lately.
We introduced ourselves to Florence and we heard the sad tales about how the hard times had made it hard for her to keep food on the table. People just weren’t shopping, anymore. Joyce was her “daughter” and daily “scout” for business. She did this trip several times a day just to help her out. As we sat there chatting, Flo started her sales job. in the process, my daughter and i bought many items and we even talked my son into a hat that we knew he’d never wear. Obviously, our heart strings were being pulled at.
I asked Florence if she would stitch her name into the purse i had chosen so i would always remember it. She was delighted to be asked to do this and as she did so, she told us her story of a hard life; one of struggling her whole life for food. She then told us that she realized that morning that she was out of food. No sugar, no milk, nothing and as she realized this she prayed that God would send her some business that day so she could get some food. At this point it all made sense to me. The “Voice” i kept hearing to keep going was God telling me stop thinking about myself; He had a mission for us that day. Florence prayed for provisions that very morning and we were the ones that were providing the money so she was able to get some. She then sat there and sang for us and gave God all of the credit for providing for her, once again.
i laid awake the other night wondering how i’m gonna get my bills caught up and all of the sudden her happy Bahamian face came into my mind. I drifted off to sleep with peace knowing that if God can provide for Flo in the Bahamas, He will provide for me, too. Thanks, Flo. I think you did more for me than i did for you that day.