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 milk...it 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 papeler√≠a, 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"

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