I met Masee today.

She is articulate, intelligent and stunningly beautiful, with creamy warm skin and perfect white teeth. Her home is built with tin and decorated with the delicate hands of an artist, the outside painted in an assortment of dainty patterns. The “windows” are covered with scraps of lace, serving as simple curtains. And the inside of her two room home is meticulously cleaned (dirt floor and all) by a woman who clearly takes pride in her dwelling.

Masee has Tuberculosis, or so she says. I believe she probably has AIDS. Since February. The disease would be difficult in any circumstance, but is only complicated by her living conditions and the presence of winter. One look at her thin frame makes it clear she has been robbed of much of her life.

Before we left the US, some family members donated money so we could purchase Bibles written in Sasotho, the language of the Basotho people. Today we gave away our first–to Masee. You would have thought it was a million dollars. She held it with such reverence, tired eyes shining, hands slowly caressing the cover. She’d never dreamed of having her own Bible.

I pulled out my own and opened to one of my all-time favorite Psalms, hoping to encourage my new friend. We read it together–first in English, then in Sosotho.

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits–who forgives all your sins, and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  Psalm 103:1-5

Wow. I doubt I’ll ever read it the same again. I sat next to a beautiful woman trapped by both poverty and disease, and yet beaming with a smile of hope only the hope of a Savior could provide. To be reminded again that God sees, knows, cares, heals and redeems was like a heavy blanket of hope wrapped around each one of us. We held hands and prayed (God, heal her!), and left with moist eyes and bursting hearts.

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