For two and a half weeks I had spent most of my time filling out applications for cleaning positions at hotels, barista jobs at Starbucks, super-sizing at McDonald's... I had drove, walked, and gotten lost all over the city of Milwaukee in pursuit of anyone who would hire me for the summer.
With only four and a half weeks left in Milwaukee to work, I was beginning to grow disheartened. I had many people praying for me and cheering me on. I also had a new energy and purpose after realizing that God didn't want me to work for Him, He wanted to work through me. There was a reason I hadn't gotten a job yet... I just didn't know what that reason was and my faith was beginning to falter.
Then, my two friends who I had been job-searching with, were hired! I was so excited for them... but I still wanted (and needed) a job! One of the staff members who had been cheering me on called her cousin on a long shot... maybe she would be willing to hire me on as a temp?
I met with Aimee, the staff member's cousin and Milwaukee temp placement agent, to fill out paperwork at Starbucks and learn that I would begin working for a fulfillment company in New Berlin the next day. Apparently I was hired... just like that!
My first day... I was nervous, but so grateful. Good wages, full-time hours. It was a bit of a drive, but I had a job.
When I arrived, I was told that I would be shadowing Carmen... but she was late. I would have to work with Lidia until Carmen could work with me.
I was brought over to a group of tables, with boxes grouped all around it. I was introduced to Lidia by the manager, and was told that I would be a "packer," while Lidia did the "picking." The manager showed me how to pack a couple of boxes, then left me alone to figure out the rest. Um, what? You can bet that I was praying like crazy that God would help me to do this job and learn it quickly!
I tried to ask Lidia a few questions, but she gave short answers. She seemed upset... probably because the new girl had been pushed on her and would slow her down. I felt bad, but also intimidated that her English did not seem to be that great.
After about an hour (where I'm sure I spent more time looking helpless and lost than actually being productive), Carmen arrived. Lidia stepped over to her table and there was a quick, loud exchange of Spanish. I didn't really know what was going on, but I ended up staying with Lidia for the rest of the day. Throughout the day, I kept trying to ask Lidia questions to get to know her better, as I figured I might be working with her often. To my surprise, she offered up something to me that I did not expect. She told me, "My daughters are about your age and they do not respect me. I get so angry with them."
Ohh, I was so excited to be done with my first day! I was mentally exhausted by learning a new job - figuring out how to pack different items from infomercials into boxes to be shipped to customers - physically exhausted from bending, lifting, and standing for 7 hours, and emotionally exhausted from the spiritually dark work environment that I had entered. Stepping out the door and finding my car was a welcome sight! I sped back to tell my friend Andrea all that had happened. What a day!
In the days and weeks to come, I did work more with Lidia and prayed to make the most of my opportunities with her. I learned about her family and asked her to help me learn Spanish. I could tell that she was warming up to me, and appreciated that I was learning my job quickly at the same time.
We began to have spiritual conversations as we worked. When I asked her what she thought about God, she told me, "I don't think about God." She had grown up going to church with her mother, but her mother died when she was young and she stopped going. Her sister-in-law had tried to take her to church, but it seemed too emotional for her. Everyone screamed and fell down, but she didn't feel anything. There were rules that they wanted her to follow, but she did not want to be forced into anything.
Oh, my heart ached for Lidia to know the God who created her and loved her! One day, I mentioned to Lidia that I used to be an angry kid. She was shocked - she tried to convince me that it couldn't be true. I began to tell her my story of how Jesus had showed me the hurt that my anger was bringing and that He was the one who began to change my heart. He began to soften me and fill me with His love. Her face showed amazement. I told her that God wanted to take her anger, too. He was offering her forgiveness and unfailing love. I asked Lidia to consider this offer.
At the end of the week, I gave Lidia a small booklet that explained the gospel. I was so nervous, yet I knew it was not up to me to change her heart. The next week, I asked Lidia what she thought of the booklet. She told me "it was the most beautiful thing I've ever read." She told me that she had prayed to trust Jesus as her Lord and Savior! I was so excited!! Lidia was now my sister in Christ! We had known each other for just two and a half short weeks, but I had seen Lidia come from death unto life.
Two and a half weeks I had searched and prayed for a job, and God provided!
Two and a half weeks I had prayed for boldness in sharing the gospel with Lidia and for her salvation, and God provided!
In the week and a half that followed, which was all I had left of my job for the summer, I shared with Lidia about what was now true of her in Christ. We dreamed of heaven together, and laughed over my terrible Spanish together. It was such a sweet time!
Since then, I've seen Lidia twice. She thanked me so much for bringing joy and love to her life. I had the chance to meet one of her daughters and her grandson.
It's been over 3 years now since I've seen or heard from Lidia... she has probably moved - perhaps back to Mexico. But I cannot stop thinking about her life and praying for her impact for God's kingdom. I can't wait to see Lidia in heaven and hear all that God did through her in her life!