By Katie Milwee
Since I first saw the film “Reparando”, I have wanted to meet Maria, affectionately known as the doll lady. Her job of repairing dolls is not glamorous, but what she creates is a stunning image of how the Lord is at work in each of our lives. Her story is told visually in the film, weaving between the stories of the main characters, Tita and Shorty. Much like her physical act of sewing and mending dolls each day, her story sews theirs together with the message of hope and redemption. Maria is given a small amount of money through a Microfinance Organization, The Potter’s House, which she uses to buy doll parts that are collected from the dump. She then washes and cleans the parts and mends them together to construct a “new” doll. From discarded items, she creates something beautiful.
So, on Thanksgiving afternoon our van drives through trash filled streets near the Guatemala City Dump passing people with blank stares and then stops outside of a cinderblock home. Maria comes out and greets each of us with a sweet smile and a loving hug. Immediately her gentle spirit brings comfort and warmth to the hard streets. She invites us into her home and shows us her “workshop” which is an old rickety card table. It’s there that she sits for hours on end repairing and mending. This is her job, just like my job is an accountant, or your job is a teacher, doctor, filmmaker, or whatever. She is tired and weary, just like we can get from long days or stressful projects, but when I see the smile lines on her face and the joy in her eyes, her gratitude and thankfulness for her work is undeniable.
So, that I afternoon, I saw Thanksgiving through new eyes, through eyes of real thankfulness, through Maria’s tears and my tears, and through the beautifully completed dolls that she proudly showed us. With these new eyes and humbled heart, I am thankful that I am a new creation in Christ, no longer left in the trash, but mended together and clothed in righteousness on display for His glory.
We invited the crews from Philly and Michigan to join us to visit Maria after our time at art camp. Several of us bought dolls (which Maria signed). These precious dolls remind us of God’s redemption in our lives. We are grateful to Maria for allowing us to share her story.