Just a few weeks after my arrival in Ecuador, the true extent of poverty here reached into my world and gripped me to the very core. We were on the city bus, headed to Shell, Ecuador, to go and pray for someone in the hospital. Not very far into our journey an older gentleman boarded the bus we were on. He was begging. His hand had just recently been cut off while he was working, the stub end still a mangled mess from the accident. The cloth he had wrapped around it soaked with blood as he was talking to us. He stood in front of the bus and made his plea for help. Do you know what he asked for? One PENNY. He simply asked if anyone could possibly spare him just a penny. I thought my heart would burst. I wanted to empty my wallet and give him everything I had.
Although we did help him out that day, I still can’t get him out of my mind. I think about the many, many times I have either walked past a penny on the ground, dropped a penny and left it there or told the cashier to keep the change when it was just a few pennies. A penny has no value to most of us; it’s just not worth the trouble. I wonder over and again how many pennies I have let fall by the wayside during my lifetime. If I could go back and count them, every single one, I wonder how many it would be? I would probably be ashamed at the number. All those many pennies I just let slip away as if they were nothing, would have been a priceless treasure to this man. I will never look at a penny the same way again.
By Ann Templet