Maria and Antonio were sharecroppers. They lived in a small adobe shack which had dirt floors and a zinc roof. Both worked from daybreak to late afternoon to make a living. Their worldly goods were meager. Nonetheless they had something that gave them great happiness and pride–a six-month-old beautiful baby girl. One Sunday morning they brought her to church to be baptized. She was dressed in a simple but pretty pink dress that Maria had made. Witnesses stood beside the couple and their daughter. Maria and Antonio were the happiest parents on earth.
Not long after the baptism Antonio and Maria were hoeing the fields on the coffee plantation. Maria stopped a moment to rest and looked towards their distant house. She saw fire and black smoke. As she ran towards the fire, she yelled to Antonio who was further out in the field. Maria arrived at the house before her husband. Fighting fire and smoke, she ran into the baby’s room and wrapped her in a blanket. Maria ran out of the blazing shack. The baby was saved; however, Maria was burned badly. With time she healed, but a large scar marked her face. Until the day she died, Maria’s face was ugly, but not to her daughter. Her daughter became a teacher, and whenever she mentioned her mother, she spoke of her as “my beautiful mother.” A Cyrus B. Dawsey Tale From the Mission Field. Birigui, Brazil, 1922.