While shopping, I am often in a bit of a rush. No time for dawdling. I'll be walking at a brisk pace, baby in my arms or carried in my wrap and someone will step in front of me and stop. The sole purpose is to make me stop, so they can touch the baby.
Or I'm perusing the laundry soap options, trying to discover which is the best one, the best price, etc. And of course, someone steps in between me and the soap. Can't they see that I'm busy? Ugh!
It's especially frustrating because the kids have been sick so much. Most Americans know that germs are passed from hand to hand contact...or worse, kisses on the mouth. Recently, when someone was trying to touch Matthew's face, Clay calmly told them that our babies have gotten sick a lot lately. If they would like to touch the baby, they were welcome to touch his feet, but please not his hands or face. The woman looked a bit confused and replied, "You only have to give him a kiss on his head when someone touches him and he won't get sick."
After that, I was buying beans in the market and saw an interesting sack of...well, I didn't have any idea. So I asked the vendor what it was and he replied, "Ojo de venado." Well, I know that the translation of that is "deer eye" but that didn't make any sense to me. "Do you eat it?" I asked naively. He impatiently responed that it was for "mal de ojo" or the "evil eye." And that was the end of the conversation. He wasn't interested in telling me more.
|"Ojo de Venado" or "Deer Eye"|
From what we've been able to discover, many people believe that if they look upon a person or an object with envy or jealousy they can cause harm to come to that person or thing. For example, if they look at their neighbor's car with jealousy, they can cause the car to break down. Or if they look at a beautiful baby, they can cause the baby to get sick, or even die. The "evil eye" in this culture is usually not given on purpose. They don't want to cause harm. So, to take away the "curse," they have to touch what it is they are admiring.
Another way to protect from the "evil eye" here is to wear an amulet that looks like an eye, such as the deer eye. Sometimes it's a bean or marble that is painted to look like an eye. Other people may tie a red ribbon to a baby to attract your attention away from the baby's face. (Although I haven't seen that, just read about it.)
So now, when I walk through the market and the ladies reach out to touch Matthew or Levi, I have more compassion. They are admiring the beauty of my children, with their blue eyes, blond hair, and light skin. But their cultural understanding tells them that they must touch the child so as to not cause them harm. They mean well, and I need to respond in a loving way that will not offend them, even though I don't believe in their superstition of the "Mal de Ojo." I believe in the one true God. And I seek a way to reveal that Truth to the people around me. I pray that God will show me how to love the indigenous people with His love, and to reveal His truth in a meaningful way.