It was the last week of the month. As I was getting ready to prepare our Sabbath meal, I stood in front of my pantry, looking at the empty shelves. What can I do? I thought. The small ration that the Communist government of Cuba allowed per family per month was gone. Only two cups of rice and a small bit of oil and part of a loaf of bread were left. From my summer garden I had a green plantain (a banana that you cook), two tomatoes, and a small head of lettuce. That was all the food I had to feed my family for Friday night, Sabbath and Sunday. Because the first day of the next month was on Monday, I could not go to the store to buy more food until then. For my little family of three--my husband, Hugo, our daughter, Lena, and me--there was not enough food. We usually had visitors come to our home for Sabbath dinner, But not this Sabbath! I thought.
I put the rice to cook in a little pot. With one of the tomatoes I made a little salsa and cooked six small "meatballs" made out of the single plantain. There it was--all of our food for two days! When Hugo arrived home that afternoon, I explained our food situation to him.
"Please don't invite anyone home for dinner tomorrow," I asked. He understood. When I heard our doorbell ring a little later and went to see who was at the door, I heard the voice of a young man who had come from a distant city. We knew he was interested in one of the young ladies in our church, so we had told him that whenever he wanted to visit our church, he was welcome to stay in our home. But why today? I thought. The fact was, though, that he was there; and I knew that we would have to share what little food we had with him.
While the young man took a shower, I quickly prepared a glass of water with sugar and a slice of bread for each member of my family. That was our supper. When our visitor came out of the bathroom, I served him a little rice, two of the plantain balls, and one leaf of lettuce made into a salad. "We have already had our supper because we have to go to the church for the AY meeting." I explained to him. When we arrived at the church that evening, I learned that the girl our friend had come to visit was out of town. Oh, no! I thought, Now we will have to feed him lunch tomorrow!
My husband gave me the solution the next morning. "Let's tell him that we are fasting today so you can then give the food to him and Lena." I agreed.
While sitting in church that Sabbath morning, I noticed a man from a neighboring church attending with his young son. He had to bring his older son to a nearby hospital and had decided to stay at our church for the church service. My thought was, Two more for lunch today!
Later in the morning Hugo whispered to me, "There is a couple visiting from Havana. When I was in the Seminary, I was assigned to the church where they are members. Many times they had me to their house for Sabbath dinner. We have to take them home."
My immediate reaction was desperation, but in a flash, Bible stories passed through my mind: the manna in the wilderness, the oil and flour of the widow, the little boy's lunch that the Lord used to feed thousands. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8), I remembered. Trusting only the Lord, my Provider, I answered my husband with a confident, "Sure, invite them home. The Lord will provide."
When we arrived home after church, the visiting lady graciously offered her help in the kitchen. "You're on vacation," I said. "It's time for you to rest. I will take care of everything in no time!"
Going into my kitchen, I knelt in front of the stove on which sat those two little pots with almost no food in them. I told my Lord and Provider, "Lord, here are my fishes and my loaves. It is all I have, and You have asked me to feed these people as You asked your disciples to do that day long ago. I give you what I have. You do the rest."
While the rice and the plantain balls were warming on the stove, I took the small head of lettuce and the tomato which I had saved for the salad. Walking over to my china cabinet, I reached in to take out a small salad bowl, but it was as if the Lord was talking to me. "Where is your faith? Haven't you asked Me to multiply your food? You need a larger bowl--enough for all the people and some left over."
"Forgive me, Lord," I said, taking out the largest salad bowl I had. As I took off leaves of lettuce, washed them, and cut them into my salad bowl, I did not see the leaves multiplying, but it seemed that the head of lettuce was always the same size, and more and more leaves were coming off it. When I finally got to the last leaf, the bowl was completely full. Then I began to cut the tomato, and it remained the same size until I had enough to combine with the lettuce into a nice tossed salad.
The same thing happened with the small piece of bread! Always I was able to cut another slice until I had filled a basket. By now my faith was very strong, so I took out a big serving dish for the rice. I had to laugh when I saw that big dish beside the small pot, but I knew what the Lord was doing. I began scooping the rice into the serving dish, and always, the same amount was left in the pot until the dish was completely full. And there was still the same amount of rice left in the pot!
"Lord," I said, "You are providing not only for these people today, but You are providing also for us tomorrow, aren't you?" I could imagine a smile on His lovely face while He was nodding to me. Then came the plantain balls. When I turned on the stove to warm the food, I saw that there were only four plantain balls left. Now, I had a big bowl in my hand, and I smiled, in spite of myself. When I took the pot lid off, the pot was full of plantain balls! I filled the big bowl full, and there were still enough balls left in the pot for the next day!
When I was ready, I went into the living room. To my husband, I said, "Honey, I know you were planning to fast today, but since we have these beloved brethren with us, why don't you join us for dinner? You can fast at any other time, if you want." Hugo looked at me as if to say, "Are you out of your mind?"
As our visitors went into the bathroom to wash their hands, I led my husband to the dining room table. He could not believe his eyes, and two big tears rolled down his cheeks while he whispered, "Thank you, Lord!"
That Sabbath dinner was the best dinner of our lives. Though a very simple meal, it was provided directly by the Lord. Yes, my friends, "My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19). The only limit to what God can do is my lack of faith because He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.