My first assignment for ADRA Canada, in December of 1989, was to travel Jamaica to do a video report on ADRA’s response to hurricane Gilbert. It was my first opportunity to personally witness the amazing work that ADRA does to help people in their time of great need. The powerful winds of the storm had ripped away the roofs of the homes of many poor families, and they were suddenly exposed to the elements. One of the things that ADRA Canada was doing in their response effort was helping some of the neediest families with new roofs for their simple homes.
I will never forget one woman they introduced me to. As we drove up to her home I quickly recognized that she had been a good candidate for the assistance. She was a widow, extremely poor, with very little family left to give her a support system. Her house was very simple with very little furniture inside. The only possessions that she seem to have were a few chickens in the yard.
One of the reasons why the local ADRA staff thought that she would make for an interesting story for my video report was because she had just turned 100 years old! Unfortunately the video tape of that interview is long gone, but something that she said while I talked with her that day has stuck with me through the years. In addition to telling me how much she appreciated the new zinc roof that she had gotten from ADRA, she got to talking about her life. Even though she had lived a life of extreme poverty, faced with many challenges, she made a point of expressing to me and my video camera how happy she was. With a face beaming in appreciation to God for everything that she had been given in this life, she said in her beautiful Jamaican accent, “I am contented, I am satisfied!”
In our lives of privilege in the Western World, where many of us can never seem to find the happiness that we are looking for, no matter how much we acquire, I often think of this woman in Jamaica who had absolutely nothing and yet could say, “I am contented, I am satisfied”.
When sharing this story with others, I have often made a contrast between this woman and the life of Mick Jagger. You may remember that it was Mick Jagger, who after trying everything this world has to offer, declared in song, “I can’t get no satisfaction! Though I try, and I try, and I try, and I try, I can’t get no satisfaction!”.
What had my friend in Jamaica discovered about life that Mick Jagger had not? I know that much of her peace came from her relationship with her Creator. She was a faithful Christian. But when I asked her what her secret to such happiness was, she also told me that she had found much joy in helping others.
Her words have helped encourage me through the years. In my own search for happiness and satisfaction, I try and remember her counsel to look for fulfillment in service. Often I get sidetracked as I try to keep up with the latest technologies and the wonders of our age, but I believe that she was right! Knowing that you have helped someone through a difficult time is one of the greatest joys we can experience!
When I am 100, I hope that I can look back on my life and say along with this woman, “I am contented, I am satisfied!”