I Gave Her the Last of My Money

by Anya Chaplygina Higley
I was 18 years old when I was baptized. I was young, eager, open, and so spiritual. I lived for the gospel, loved it and carried the burning Spirit in me all the time. I lived in the big city of St. Petersburg, Russia.

Things were changing in those years, and there were a lot of poor people who couldn't make ends meet. Among those were elderly people, living on little pensions from government. All of a sudden within a couple of years there were a lot of beggars standing at entrances and exits of subway stations.

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I lived alone, working at the city maintenance office, and my paychecks were very small. My fridge was always empty, and I lived off potatoes, pasta, and grains. There were a lot of days when I had very little to eat.

One day I had a little bit of money (a 5 ruble bill). I still had a week till my next paycheck, and that was all the money I had till then. I wanted to buy a treat for myself--a tube of sweet cottage cheese. That would last me a couple of days, and it was my favorite.

I was heading somewhere in the city. As I was exiting the subway station, I saw many older people standing near the exit with their hands folded, begging for coins. I kept walking past them, as many other people did as well. In the corner of my eye--far and deep in the corner of the station--I caught a glimpse of an old woman. She was tiny and hunchbacked, wearing a scarf on her head. It looked as if she was pressing herself into the corner, ashamed of what she was doing--begging for money.

I kept walking through the doors outside. Suddenly, I felt the Spirit wash over me. It was like a hot, burning flame that took over my chest.
I felt a prompting to turn around and go back to that old woman. I went back through the crowd of walking people, through the waiting and begging people, all the way to the far corner, where no one would seem to have ever walked. My heart was burning, and my eyes were filled with tears. 

It was accustomed in those days to give coins to beggars, like 10 to 50 kopeks, not rubles, and definitely not 5 ruble bills. But I did not want to get change before I went to her. I followed my burning heart. 

My costs were different from the ones who were old and poor. The treat I wanted to buy cost exactly 5 rubles. It was fancy and expensive. For that old woman, 5 rubles would buy her a week's worth of grains and bread.

I walked up to her and without thinking put my last 5 ruble bill in her small, curled hand. She looked at it and then looked at me. Her eyes were full of tears of gratitude. She said, "God bless," and made a cross gesture at me (an Orthodox tradition). As I turned and walked away, I started crying and I could not control my tears running down my cheeks, coming straight from my heart.

I went on with my day and returned home when it was late and dark. I was hungry and went to my fridge, knowing there was nothing in it. I opened it, and to my amazement, in the middle of empty shelves I saw a tube of my favorite cottage cheese that I wanted to buy that day. 

I felt the Spirit again, and at that moment I knew how much my Heavenly Father loves me. I felt His love, His comfort and His support. I felt I was an instrument in His hands to help that little poor old woman. I learned a lesson of giving all I had so that I could feel the love of my Heavenly Father. 

I called my mom, and she said she just felt I would want to have the treat she bought for me, so she had stopped by earlier and put it in my fridge.

I know the love of our Father in Heaven is endless if we listen and follow the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is in us.