There are a number of reasons why this chapter is so late in coming. Since I got back from El Salvador, I've had a difficult time putting into words exactly what we did, what I got from it, how I feel. Even right now I am finding the words elusive. I don't know if I can do it justice.
We live in a very different world. When I arrived back I spent a couple of weeks in reverse culture shock. Paved roads, clean, maintained roads, houses that now seem like magnificent opulent homes, toilets that flush toilet paper... the list could go on, but I won't. Do not let my observations give you the impression at all that I think El Salvador is primitive, low class or otherwise demean them. I want you to understand that our very poor here would be considered rich there. What they ARE rich in is heart. I've explained a bit about what we did. I'm not going to go into any more depth because I had a job to do. I went there, I worked and if the little I did made even a tiny difference, and pleased God even a little, I would be completely happy. But the work is not what impacted me the most. It was the people. I mentioned on Facebook that I would never complain about laundry again as I watched women carry humongous baskets of laundry on their heads down to the river to wash. I was walking in a neighborhood one day handing out tickets to one of our clinic days when one of the daily downpours of rain started. Without a moment's pause, a woman who had moments before been cleaning her floor with a bucket, soap shavings and a rag, (no Swiffers here) quickly insisted that we come into her home from the muddy road and wait out the rain. Another family that I met at church wanted to talk to me long after church ended, hear all about my family and then insisted that I bring my family some day on vacation, and please be welcome to stay in their home. Now, I don't know about you, but I have never, ever been walking in the rain and have someone offer me an umbrella let alone welcome me into their home with freshly mopped floors!
I had the honor of coloring with children who daily come to the church for their meals. Children who can play for hours on end with tiny nubbins of crayons or a single balloon.
I got to witness young teens eager to learn another language, voluntarily, in their free time from school.
I was pleased to watch a crippled boy be blessed with new crutches from one of our fantastic volunteers and many, many others get medical attention, some for the first time in their lives.
These are all tangible things that I got to experience first hand and watch.
But what I took away? I didn't mean to take anything, or receive anything. But I did.
Sunday evening one of our interpreters, who also works at the church, supports her family, goes to school, and raises her nephew and niece as her own, told me that she and one of our other a-maz-ing interpreters would be staying with me and a couple of my other team members overnight at the hotel....
Now, if you know me you would know that there is nothing I fear more in life than new people. But of course when Evelin told me, I smiled and said something dumb like "of course that would be wonderful!" not wanting her to feel even a smidge that she would be unwelcome by me, which she wasn't. I love to be around people, interacting, having fun. Love it. But I'm a big baby about new ones. It probably stems from a lifetime of moving around and never having that lifelong best friend that many grow up with from birth into adulthood. So, Sunday night we were all really wiped out. It was obvious that we all needed a good night's sleep. Our interpreters Evelin and Amalba were cleary as tired as we were. And in my nervousness, I made a really lame joke as Evelin was lying on the couch falling asleep. She in her sweet exhaustion actually thought it was funny and laughed. And laughed. And then told Amalba about it and laughed some more. Meanwhile I'm thinking that perhaps I said something ridiculously idiotic in Spanish, because there is no way my stupid joke was that funny. And then I started laughing and our bond was sealed. That easy. That quick. Forever. Over the next several days our bond only grew. Faster than any friendship I have ever had. These two women were a balm to my soul. We spent very late nights talking, whispering, laughing and then laughing the next day over inside jokes from the night before. Blessed seems like such a trivial word for the new friendship that I now share with them. Lucky maybe? Nope, not good enough. Evelin is someone who I feel divinely connected to. I love her and I know she loves me. I miss her like crazy and saying goodbye to Amalba on Thursday and then Evelin on Friday night was torture. So....the reason it took me so long to write this particular installment is because, I've been feeling very emotional since I got back. I don't know how to explain the love I have for all the people, but in particular a very special friend who I never saw coming or expected. In God's infinite grace and wisdom, he planned for me to be on this trip, to meet this woman, to share a lifetime friendship with. Little did I know that so far away would be a couple of women that I would meet and come to love dearly when I was 27 years old. What else can I say except that I miss them desperately and cannot wait to go back and seem them again.
Stay tuned for the final installment. Hopefully much sooner than this one was!