Her name was Salmenta. She was one of the many women from Chaimite who would come to the village compound to fellowship with her friends and to learn the new skill she’d been told about. Sometime in the last three years, Salmenta became aware of the group from World Relief and The Chapel who would periodically visit her homeland. The group visited with the men, women and children of the village, helping them attend to their everyday needs while sharing with them about the God who takes care of all our needs. We don’t know whether it was by invitation of a friend, or if she simply heard about our visit through the grapevine. All we know is that Salmenta came to the compound, and someone from The Chapel taught her how to knit purses from hemp.
We know that because every knitter who makes a purse that is purchased by The Chapel places her name inside the bag. And we have seen Salmenta’s name inside many purses that have come home from our last several missions trips.
A group from The Chapel just returned from Mozambique, and like most of the trips before this, they brought back a bag with Salmenta’s name inside. But this particular purse held two distinct differences. The first distinction was the vast improvement in the workmanship of Salmenta’s bag compared to her initial works. Much like the knitted bag described in “The Tale of Two Purses,” Salmenta’s knitting skills saw marked improvements day by day.
The second difference was the notation beside Salmenta’s name. The card identifying her as the knitter of the purse had one word written next to her name – “deceased.” Sometime between The Chapel’s last mission in May 2011 and their most recent trip last week, Salmenta passed away. She most likely fell victim to HIV/AIDS. A widow in her 40s or 50s, Salmenta left behind two grown daughters. Those daughters received payment for her purse.
Undoubtedly, Salmenta left a legacy in the village of Chaimite – there are untold stories of her relationship with her daughters and her influence on her friends. But Salmenta also has left a legacy with us. Her legacy includes the reminder that – much like the delicate stitches of her hemp handbag – life is fragile. Her legacy includes the lesson that all of us receive gifts of all types, and that it is truly more blessed to give those gifts than to receive them.
Tonight, our prayer is that you will join us in remembering Salmenta, as well as all of her friends in Chaimite and Koka Misava. Remember, please, their willingness to sow seeds today in order to reap a more promising tomorrow. Remember the growth that they and their entire villages have experienced, individually and corporately; in mind, body and spirit. And join us in helping them. As you purchase a purse, you will prosper an entire village. Thank you, and may God bless you!
© Linda R. Maynard
October 14, 2011