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Mari's Smile

Written by Dr. Jose Rodriguez, Panama Country Director and Pastor of Central Church Panama

Little Mari has suffered from the tragedy of COVID-19. Her father lost his job and since then, the family has struggled to eat each day. 

Yet, despite this difficult situation, Mari has not lost the brightness of her smile.

MariShe lives in the community of Cruece de Camarón on the Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous reservation in Chiriquí, Panama. In this mountainous region, most people do not have jobs due to the pandemic; the majority must live off of the land.

Leaders of Central Church Panama knew how desperately the family needed food, so on one of our visits to the reservation, we gave her mother a bag of food: rice, beans, sausages, sugar, and other ingredients for a healthy meal. Mari was so happy: she knew that on that day, she would not go to bed hungry.

When Mari saw the bag of food in her mother's hands, Mari said, "Pastor, is that rice and meat?

"Yes," I said. "That's rice and meat."

"Can I have a bag for myself?" she said.

Upon hearing that, the mother scolded her for asking me for another bag of rice, but Mari's smile totally captured my heart! I said to the mother, "Please don't scold her. I will give her a bag of food too."

The bag of food that I gave to Mari was too heavy for her to hold. She stood there smiling next to her little sister who was holding an empty plate in her hands. I wept with joy and thought, "How can a bag of food make a little girl so happy?"

Mari told me, "Thank you, Pastor!" and the mother also said, "Thanks for remembering us."

Lifeline's meal packing ministry impacts families around the world who have much less than we do. From Panama, many thanks to all the volunteers, leaders, church members, and Lifeline staff for this extraordinary ministry of packing food.

YOU are responsible for Mari's smile.