True love doesn't always come in sparkling, pretty packages.
Last Saturday, a group of volunteers and I helped a family to spring-clean their house.
As with most cases, the state of a house usually reflects the physical condition of its owners. In this particular case, the house was one neglected simply because the owners were too overwhelmed by their current situation that upkeeping their own home was the last thing on their mind.
It was dim, dusty and cluttered with all manners of items collected to be resold (but clearly hadn't been for a number of years). Broken beds propped up by cardboard and boxes of paper that had inevitably become nests for cockroaches.
Amidst all the bustle of our work, uncle's wife was lost in her own world, detached from the reality of what was happening around her. She would eat a simple meal of soup cooked by uncle for lunch, combed her hair several times, shuffle to the toilet and have several conversations with herself.
At times, she broke out of her reverie long enough to notice all the activity around, and twice she asked me in a slightly startled manner whether we were helping her to move to a new house! I had to reassure her, only to lose her attention as she disappeared back into the recesses of her wandering mind again. She even managed to take a long nap, fast asleep peacefully like a baby on the island of her bed among the sea of cleaning and painting activity!
I looked up a couple of times to see uncle watching our exchanges intently with a concerned and protective look.
When I managed to have a quiet moment with uncle, who had distanced himself from the cleaning work and was sitting across the street, he shared with me that auntie had an accident in her early twenties, suffering a head injury that affected her brain functions. She never recovered from it since, and he has been caring for her and their two sons since then. That's for the past thirty-over years! That's as long as I've lived! I could hardly believe his amazing strength and stamina.
It's true that on the surface, the house looks a little like something out of a horror film. But it is a home bursting at its seams full of love. Uncle and auntie's love embodies to me the meaning of the marriage vow - through thick and thin, in sickness and in health.
It took a team of dedicated volunteers to find this family, understand them and to make arrangements, sponsors to fund all the works and items, and 10 pairs of hands and feet half a day of work to transform the state of their home environment.
I believe God works through all our actions to bring His comfort to the family, encouraging them to keep going on in love.
So my challenge to you, especially Christians - what will you do to bring encouragement and love to others?