I don’t know how to put into words what I’m feeling right now, but I know that writing will help me process my thoughts, so if any of this sounds disjointed please understand that right now I am completely broken, and trying to make sense of everything that is going on. I keep seeing their faces in my head. Their big brown eyes staring up at me. The eyes of children who had nothing. When I close my eyes I can see myself walking up to their trailer for the first time, although trailer doesn’t give a very good picture of what I’m looking at. This thing I’m looking at used to be a camper that went on the back of a pickup truck maybe 25-30 years ago. I don’t know where it’s been, but I know where it is now, in the middle of a plot of land no bigger than my hotel room or the foyer of the church I attend. There are a couple of crates outside with a few chickens running around in and around them. And there is a boy there. About one year old, he’s walking around in their yard and his four and five year old sister’s are watching him. I walk towards him and he looks startled. I try to comfort him by saying hello and bending down to talk to him, but he just stares at me. When I hold my arms out to him he starts to whimper, so I back off. I hold his hand and lead him back toward the house, so he can see his mom and know that everything will be alright. But inside me I’m concerned, because I don’t know if it will be. As we’re walking I see a sheetrock screw on the ground, so I bend down to pick it up. This is when I see the house for the first time. The first thing I notice is the size. This trailer was intended to house a few people for a few days at a time, not an entire family. They have somehow cut out the part of the floor where it extends over the truck in order to put a full size mattress on the floor of their ”house.” A couple pieces of plywood have been fastened in place to make the remaining space.
As I write this I’m also printing pictures off for our VBS tomorrow. It brings a little relief to my mind by giving me something else to focus on for a second. However I hesitate to look too far down the page, because I know that their pictures will be there.
Their house was an area maybe the size of my bathroom, and yet housed 6 people. In addition to the small bed for the parents, there were a few blankets on the ground for the kids to sleep on. I see one pot on the wall, and a single burner from a camping cook stove was their only way to cook. There are a few potatoes and some rice in one corner, and a single light hung from overhead. In the middle of the floor was the mom, holding her new little girl.
The baby was so precious, just a tiny little thing, probably about 5 pounds. She had such small features. Every once in a while she would try and open her eyes and stir just a little bit. And her mom knelt, holding her inside this tiny little shack that they called a home. I wonder what she was thinking when she got pregnant again. Was she happy when she found out? They don’t have enough to sustain the two of them, much less any children, much less four. One of the members of our team would point out later that the whole situation made them feel hopeless, because their was so much need it was impossible to know where to start. Another would later comment that this family wasn’t living, they were just surviving. How could she feel anything but hopeless knowing that they were already stretched to the breaking point, and now they have another mouth to feed. What will they do and how will they manage to exist?
Yet I also wonder if there was a glimmer of joy. I wonder if once the cloud of worry passed she thought about holding her baby for the first time, and the child’s first words, first steps and everything that comes with a baby. When I started my computer up I saw a picture of my daughter, she was holding an easter basket and dancing around with the biggest smile on her face. I know that everyone in this world does the best they can with the resources they have available to them. I know that this family will dance and laugh, play games and wrestle. I know that there will be many celebrations and many tears. I know there will be good times and bad times. Together they will experience all that their life has to offer, and that gives me some comfort.
I want to just end this blog right there, on a good note, but I’m reminded of something the interpreters said to me and a testimony that I want to share. Our interpreters grew up where this lady lives. One of them told me that he was that little boy, that he ran around bare foot in the dirt. He had to haul buckets of water from some distance away and he had to boil water so he could take a warm shower. His dad ended up crossing into the US illegally in order to provide a better life for his family, and once there he was able to get a good enough start to be able to provide for his family. Puts a whole different spin on the immigration problem for me.
The testimony I wanted to share is not an end for this family, but it’s a beginning. During the day on Tuesday, June 19th. Tiffanney and I were sitting at home preparing to leave for Mexico when we heard a knock at the door. We walked over to see who it was and there was a lady standing there who we’ve maybe seen a couple of times. She told us that she had heard of our missions trip and wanted to donate some things for the trip. I remember talking to Tiffanney after she closed the door and wondering how we were going to distribute infant formula. You really have to be in the right place at the right time in order to find someone who has a need for it. The thing that keeps echoing in my head is that God loved this lady so much that she inspired someone to bring us formula so that the same day her baby was born she could have formula and give her baby the nutrition she so badly needs.
I’m amazed that God thinks that much of us to orchestrate this whole situation.