Written By Charlotte Diana, Indonesia
My mother is one of the most amazing women I know. After my father died in 2011, she remained strong for the sake of her three children, making and selling Indonesian desserts known as “Lapet” and “Es Buah” to support us.
Living with limited finances has taught her to be more careful with her money. Even though I give her money every month now, she uses it only to buy household items.
One day, my mother told me about her dream of starting a mini-grocery store in our house.
“Are you sure about this, mom?” I asked.
“Yes. I want to earn my own keep so that I can help you. Besides, when you are at work, I’m home alone. Having a mini-grocery store will keep me busy so I won’t feel alone,” she explained.
Over the next few months, we tried to save money by cutting down on our expenses and setting aside some of our income for my mum. But the amount was not enough. We did not have enough money to make it work, and her dream seemed impossible to achieve.
One day, however, my mother received a surprise gift from my uncle. It was a glass rack with sliding doors. My uncle had heard about my mother’s desire to start the store, and had got her the rack to display items to sell. My mother was very happy.
But she did not use the glass rack immediately. She thought that she had to buy all the things she needed before she could open the mini-store. Only after we encouraged her to just go ahead, did she buy a few products for her store, place them on the rack, and open her store.
On the first day, only a few people came in to buy something. Nevertheless, she did not complain. She greeted everyone who came by with a smile.
Slowly, however, my mother managed to make some money. She also learned how to be a good sales person and a blessing to others. Whenever someone asked for something which was unavailable, she would always try to offer an alternative so that the customer’s trip would not be wasted. Her friendly and helpful manner kept them coming back.
Sometimes, the boys and girls who came by did not have enough money to buy what they wanted. Once, my mother asked one of the boys: “Where are your parents?” “They work all day long,” he replied sadly. Remembering her own daughter, my mother smiled and asked how much money he had. She then decided to give the boy what he wanted, free of charge.
At other times, security guards and rubbish collectors would stop by for water and snacks. One night, when the store was already closed, someone rang the bell to buy a bottle of water. On another occasion, a rubbish collector stopped by to buy aspirin after suffering from a headache from working too long in the sun. My mother not only opened the store just for these customers, but even offered the rubbish collector a place to rest for a while.
Maids were another group of people who frequented her store. Some came by not just for household amenities, but also to share their problems with my mother. She also noticed that many of them would buy medication to treat the symptoms of their sickness, but did not have enough money to go to hospital.
Troubled by this situation, she decided to take it upon herself to educate the maids about a government health program that subsidized hospital visits and mediation. Having registered for it herself, she knew how the program worked and could explain what it was about. She helped them get the registration forms and also helped them register for the program. Over time, more and more maids came forward to ask my mother about the health program, and most of them registered and received better medication.
Soon, word spread about my mother’s mini-grocery store, and it started getting crowded at certain hours in the day. It enabled my mother to earn enough to buy a new refrigerator to start selling frozen food.
It’s been a year since my mother opened her store, and she has helped and served many people.
Over the course of this year, I’ve seen how God has given her this privilege not just to be a sales person, but also to be a servant and mentor to others. God helped and encouraged her so that her dream could become a reality. And I’m encouraged by how she constantly prays to God and places her hopes in Him.
Being a widow did not make my mother bitter. She has not only succeeded in supporting the family, but also been an inspiration to many young people, including myself.
May we too let our lives shine for Jesus, so that when others see our lives, they will be able to see the Almighty God who has written our life story.