Saturday, September 22, 2012

Walking in the Clouds

     Sometimes I wonder if I'm ready to move in to a small village where we will likely be the main event every day.  Recently we were driving through "Pine Hill" and Clay stopped to go into a small store to buy a coke. (A great reason to stop and chat.) I stayed in the car with the kids, trying to be inconspicuous. It didn't take long for people to walk by, stop, and peer in to the windows to catch a glimpse of the FOUR white kids. The people were not shy about looking, either.
     Later, Clay stopped at another store. This time he left the windows open.  There were at least 9 kids peeking in to look at us at one time. The peeking is one thing...then I heard Ryan say, "I don't want anyone else to touch me!" I realized we were all beginning to feel like an exhibit at the local zoo. How will I ever handle this constant observation? How will my kids handle the people constantly reaching to touch their hair? Or hug them? And then there's the kisses...I realized that Ellie has developed an amazing "duck and run" escape technique!
     The next day we went back to visit. I'll admit that I was feeling a bit apprehensive...overwhelmed.  We began the visit in the town square where we ran into a man who works for the state police. (A good friend to have!) We've seen this man on every trip to "Pine Hill," and every time he has welcomed us. This time he invited us to a cup of coffee at the local restaurant. Since the restaurant is right on the square, we let the big kids run and play with the kids who were playing soccer while we visited.
     I continue to be amazed by the people of this community. They are so kind, so open. I spent most of the morning visiting with Isabela who owns the restaurant. She's the mother of two girls who are now married. She has a three year old granddaughter. And she has opened her home to her 13 year-old neice and her 6 month-old baby. Isabela's husband has diabetes and is very sick. He's already had one leg amputated, and no longer can get out of bed.
     We watched the clouds blow down the hill that afternoon. It was amazing to walk in a cloud! The kids ran and jumped, and were surprised that they got wet when it wasn't even raining. We pray for this community of "Pine Hill."  They are so full of needs. Most women still cook over wood fires. Their teeth are rotting from malnutrition. And many are lulled into a sense of eternal security, thinking that they're good enough to go to Heaven. But too few have a relationship with the Father and Son.
     It's during these moments, that I am reminded why the Lord has brought me here, to these people.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Blessings of "Pine Hill"

Recently I was able to make my first trip to ZK land, home of our people group. I do believe I fell in love...with the people and the community. It was a four-hour drive through winding mountain roads. I'd like to say it was a beautiful drive, but I spent most of the time nodding off thanks to my new friend Dramamine.

Once we got to "Pine Hill," Clay and I headed out to explore and look for the medical clinic. Our main purpose was to meet people and see what it might be like to live in this town eventually. As we walked along, we entered a grocery store to check prices of was comparable. Then we saw a young guy in a furniture store, so we stopped to see what kind of furniture and appliances are available. We talked to Misael for awhile, asking him how to say "thank you" in ZK.

When we finally got to the clinic, we talked to the nurse and learned so much more about the people. She told us that many people in the community are very poor and suffer from malnutrition. The women (or girls) often start having babies at 13 years old. The mother and baby are both malnourished. And the more babies they have, the more the whole family is affected. Later as we walked through town, we saw the affects of the poverty in the rotten teeth of small children. Many are given sweet coffee to drink from a young age.

After we left the clinic, we entered a papelería, or a small store that sells stationery, school/office supplies, etc. Again, we were looking to see what was available and the prices...and hoping to meet people who would be open to chat with us. God amazed us by taking us to Don J, the owner of the store. After a few minutes, he invited us to see his house which is attached to the store. Then he brought out stools for us to sit and sent his daughter to buy some Coca-Cola so we could visit. We spent close to an hour visiting with Don J that day. He was very kind and offered us lots of information about the community and the people.

The next week we went back to "Pine Hill" and took the whole family. We stopped at a small store near a basketball court. We bought a Coke and sat while the kids ran around. Of course we attracted a crowd. I wish I had a camera to capture all that was happening, but we had deliberately left it behind.

At one point, we were sitting on the sidewalk with about 20 people crowding around. We were asking them how to say words or phrases in ZK and they were eager to teach us, and to laugh at our poor pronunciation. There were also kids gathering close to see the gringo kids. Suddenly I realized that our little Ellie was teaching the kids a game...the "hand stack" game where everyone stacks their hands and then the hand on the bottom is put on the top of the stack. She was speaking Spanish fluently enough to explain what to do! I was thrilled to see her interacting with these little girls.

When it was time to leave, we headed back down hill to where we had parked our car. I felt a bit like the Pied Piper. We were leading a gang of the kids...and Ellie and Levi were in the lead, holding hands with three of their new friends. Again, I wish I had a camera, but I will hold that image in my mind's eye forever!

We were able to snap this picture of the streets of "Pine Hill"