In the journey of life, you're bound to run into some interesting people. I remember in the book, "Irresistible Revolution", Shaine Claiborne talks about spending a summer working alongside Mother Teresa in the slums of Calcutta, India. In the book, Shane recalls that Mother Teresa had very disfigured feet. It was later explained to him that it's because she always chose the last pair of shoes from the donation box to ensure that the poor people in the village got first pick. So her feet became disfigured over the years from choosing the worst shoes. Momma T taught others how to do small things with great deliberation. She used to say, "We can do no great things, just small things with great love." I thought to myself recently how great it would be to meet someone like her. Someone who embodied that sacrificial love, and genuinely put others first. And then... I did!!
Our team learned about a soup kitchen that happens every Friday afternoon in downtown Canberra. I found a contact number and called to see how our team could be involved. An elderly woman answered, and after chatting for a few minutes, I knew we had stumbled upon someone special. Turns out, this lady has been running the outdoor soup kitchen in downtown Canberra for 28 straight years! For her incredible contribution to the poor and homeless people in the city, she's earned several awards: 1996 Canberra Citizen of the Year, 1999 Inaugural ACT Senior Citizen of the Year, winner of the "My Favorite Australian" award, and she even served as a torch bearer to the Beijing Olympic games in 2008. Coming in at a whopping 4' 6", I proudly introduce you to my favorite Australian, the Mother Teresa of Canberra, Stasia Dabrowski.
Make no mistake, Stasia is not the kind of sweet old lady that brags about her grandchildren or pinches your cheek. Stasia is all about the Father's work. There she is on the left, probably scolding me about answering a Bible question wrong or lecturing me about loving others. She has the thickest skin of anyone that I've ever met. One time I said, "Stasia, it's so good what you're doing down here, serving the poor people." She shot right back, "I'm not good! I'm just moving my hands and my feet." Then another time, I accidentally let the word awesome slip out of my mouth to describe her soup kitchen. Bad mistake. She shot back again, "This is not awesome, I'm not awesome, you're not awesome. I'm just a drop of water in the ocean." Clearly we had a few shaky moments, but I was shocked by her humility. Something about her made me stick around for more stories...
It took some time for Stasia and I to warm up to one another, but by the end of the day we had built a friendship and we were even laughing together. She understands her purpose in this world better than most people. She knows her calling is to love broken people, and to be a grandmother to the lost. It seemed that she was on a first name basis with every person that came for her homemade, all-natural, veggie soup (which was awesome! I mean...tasty), especially the drug addicts, alcoholics, and homeless people. I learned that behind her stern attitude is the most loving person that I've probably ever met. Early in our conversation, I thought she was stubborn. Later, I realized that she is determined, and I admire it about her! It's like Allen Reedall once told me, "We need to have thick skin, and a gracious heart." And I believe Stasia epitomizes that. At 83 years of age, she says that she will keep serving the homeless until she's lying under the ground. Who does that!?
Just like Mother Teresa, Stasia understands the importance of doing small things with great love. And I love that about her. She won't take a compliment to save her life, and I tried many times, believe me! But I realize that she gets something that most of our society doesn't. Stasia only wants the approval of God, and not anyone else. I asked her for one last favor before we left... to take a picture with me. Of course it took about five minutes of pleading and using my best persuasion skills, but I got it! Here's a picture of me and my favorite Australian.
Thank you, Stasia.
Click here to watch a video of Stasia in action