A Story of Joy and Blessing

A few months ago, I had this strange experience of having my hands washed by an old lady in the village. She grabbed my hands and started washing them. I tried to stop her but in the end, I surrendered to the moment.


By Monalisa Esteban

Monaliza Esteban

Mona is a Filipina Columban lay missionary assigned in Pakistan

It was another ordinary day of visiting the villages. Our group, as usual, includes an ordained, a catechist, a Lay Missionary and/or a Sister. On this particular day, while the priest and the catechist were talking to the village men, I was mingling with the women. That was the first time I met this old lady.

People were busy preparing our lunch before the Holy Mass. I was like a hopper, jumping from one “Chulah” (clay stove) to another to greet and briefly chat with these women while they were cooking. I ended up near a “charpay” (stringed bed) where an old lady was sitting. We talked about her family and life in the village. It was a joy, listening to her share her stories with such enthusiasm. I felt like she wanted to tell me something – a story of joy and blessing!


Mona (left) together with a woman in the village

We were killing time, exchanging laughs and stories, when a basin was placed in front of me by a woman who was also holding a jar of water. Suddenly, the old lady grabbed my hands, smiled at me, and started washing them. I tried to pull them away and protested that I could do it myself, but she held firm. As she was caressing my hands, I felt my heart swell. She touched me with a hand that was neither soft nor manicured, but beneath its roughness, I felt the warmth of a hand that has sown seed and reaped its fruits, after patiently nurturing the land for months. A hand that bleeds during a hard rush harvest season. A hand to be proud of and be grateful for because forever etched upon it are years of hard work. I wanted to tell her that her hand felt like it has gone through all the grand adventures of life. But I could only gaze at her and smile.

I still remember her smile as she told me something I couldn’t make out, even though I was just in front of her. I was truly rendered speechless by what she was doing. At that moment, I was experiencing mixed emotions. I think it would be this kind of feeling I would have if Jesus were to wash my feet.  

I am still in awe that I got to witness this kind of love from people I had just met for the first time. Her humble witness to a complete stranger really made me feel welcome.