Jesuit Volunteer Reflects: The Courage to Ask For Help


BY ANDY DEVIVOApril 22, 2014

I only had only one more thing to buy: lemons.  I reached into my pockets and felt for the coins I had left: $550 pesos (a little more than a dollar).  As I walked through the feria, where my community buys our fruits and vegetables, I glanced around at the different stands for the prices of the lemons.  One man was selling a half kilogram for $700 pesos.  Another was selling them at $800 pesos for a half kilo.  I walked up to the two men and asked if they would sell me a quarter kilo, for it was what I could afford.  “No way,” they told me, “Only half kilo or more.”

As a Jesuit Volunteer I am called to live simply.  It is one of the four pillars (along with community, spirituality and doing justice) that my lifestyle is based upon.  One facet of living simply is living with a modest food budget.  As a community we decide how much we will spend at the feria and how much we will spend at the grocery store each week.  I had checked everything off my list except lemons, but it seemed with the few coins I had left I simply could not afford them.

Just as I was about to give up I walked past a vegetable stand where I had bought some tomatoes a half hour earlier.  The lady who had sold me the tomatoes was moving around her stand with the grace of a ballerina.  As she danced her way over to me I asked her what the lemons were going for.   “$800 pesos,” she said.  “Pucha,” I said.  I could not afford that.  I paused for a moment ready to walk away, but decided to ask her if she would sell me some for $550 pesos.  She smiled and said, “Sí, por supuesto.”

She danced herself away to get the lemons and weigh them.  The scale read $850 pesos as she placed four lemons on the scale.  I winced, but she took one off changing the reading to $550 pesos exactly.   She shoveled the three lemons from the scale into the bag and then without saying a word slipped the fourth lemon into the bag too.  Expecting her to hand me the bag I put my hand out with the money, but she danced away again and began to throw chili peppers into the bag too.  She smiled and handed me the bag. Slightly dazed from the generosity, I smiled back and thanked her while handing her my remaining coins.

I do not usually ask for favors.  I take pride in being able to pay for things or do things by myself.  I believe that comes from the individualized lifestyle that I had in the United States.  I, also have a fear of rejection.  However, I realize that sometimes I need help.  When I can admit that, put my trust in God, and simply ask, I know I can continue to be amazed by the generosity of the people that surround me.

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