In crossculture. Peoplewatching. Community in the two-thirds world and other places. About questions too: "Higher up and further in!" with an outreach twist? How?

Posts tagged “children

The Stranger in our Shower

Good morning, dear world! I saw a post recently about how it’s probably healthier for kids to get a bath only one or two times a week, because their immune systems are still developing and, a certain amount of mostly benign flora and fauna in and on them helps their natural resistance to be strong. I think it has to do with, also, allowing their natural skin oils to accumulate a bit, which provides yet another healthy barrier against infection.

T’was comforting. It made me feel like a better mom, to realize that CERTAINLY I had followed this path with my beloved little ones, as a young mom, sometimes almost by DEFAULT, to be honest. The water and electricity cuts where we lived were so frequent and sometimes so long, that bathing my babies was impossible for days at a time. Except for sponge baths, of course, which are supposed to be super healthy for people anyways.

Reading that post brought back memories of how I would, sometimes, WORRY about the intensity and scope of the thick, light brown dust coverage on their little skins, not to mention deeply rubbed in grime and stains in blue jean knees and shirt elbows, that my happy, healthy little ones popped home with every day from hours playing outdoors with their young Quechua friends.

I remember Paul and me (the parents) actually dusting their clothing off with our hands, while it was still on them, as a matter of course. Visible clouds of fine dirt billowed out, before we lifted our youngsters across the threshold of our small apartment, to go inside with them.  I remember slipping their little shoes off their feet and dumping out CUPFULS of dust and sand! I remember, every once in awhile, a little face being so mud-covered that only the bright, big blue eyes twinkled out at me through the brown grime, under the towhead thatch of fine thick hair!

Digressing a little, but not much, I’m remembering how, one time Paul was away on a ministry trip to a rural area in the highlands. The huge, vibrant and growing loose consortium of all Quechua churches – the one with which we mostly worked, the U.C.E., was hosting a big yearly conference right on the same U.C.E.- owned property where we lived and where there was a Quechua Bible School. Thousands of Quechua people, from all over Bolivia, had arrived at the Bible School and were staying in student rooms, vehicles, and camping. Saturday morning had arrived and I slipped out of the Bible Institute property for a half an hour, striped nylon Bolivia shopping bags over my arms, to buy produce for my family in the Quechua farmer’s market just outside the Bible School gates, right there.  I left my baby and my tiny boys playing happily in the stone-flagged entryway to our apartment, door into our place cracked open, with my Quechua part-time housekeeper, Donya Marcelina, working in our little kitchen and keeping a gimlet eye on our kids, five yards away.

Twenty-five minutes later, walking back in, lugging bagfuls of fresh potatoes, lettuce, papaya, broccoli and Granny Smith apples, I smiled at my three offspring, still in our foreyard playing Legos with the kids of Benedicto and Braulia, and slipped in through our front door. Our place was tiny; distances are small. I turned toward the kitchen, still lugging produce, and called a greeting to Donya Marcelina. At that moment our bathroom door opened and a Quechua stranger, a man, came out, with a towel over his arm.

“Good morning, Senora!”. Huge grin.

I mumbled “Good morning”. I was in shock. I was not grinning.

He smiled ingratiatingly, and slipped past me, made a bee-line for the front door, and disappeared. His hair and skin were all wet.

“Donya Marcelina???” I sputtered.

She looked at me with concern in her warm, deep eyes.

“I know, Donya NinadesusOjos. But, he just walked in here, and started taking a shower, in the bathroom.  I assumed  you had given him permission, before you left! I am so sorry!”

I had the deepest, most intuitive liking, respect and trust for this lady, older than I, in whom I had implicit faith and from whom I had learned dozens of positive, amazing life hacks. I thanked my God for her every single day. I loved her, and her warm, open, authentic smile.

“It’s okay, Donya Marcelina! I’m not blaming you! It’s not your fault!”

And it wasn’t. It was just another example of …. life! I think God was trying to teach me, not only to trust Him more, but to laugh more, along the route.

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A Vignette from when Teaching the Children Eight Days Ago

-the little guy four years old who spent two minutes philosophically explaining, aloud, to himself and others in the room that the reason why the adult in charge was not letting him and the other little children go to the bathroom or go to get a drink of water, was because that would be using TOO MUCH WATER and would make all the faucets run dry in the whole property.  (actually a very real possibility, and a fact of life there at least every 3rd day!)


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Child and Scooter

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A Fun Thing that Happened to Me in Congo at Easter

Those of ’round-about my generation or older, remember passing notes in highschool?

In my highschool, The American School of Kinshasa, Kinshasa, Congo we passed A LOT of notes!

Here’s a note, that got passed to me there in my school, by one of my  girlfriends, R., who was my age, in my grade, and who was also, like me, the daughter of crosscultural workers, only HER parents lived and worked in the middle of the jungle in Congo, while my family was up the Continent a hop, skip and a jump, by plane.  A couple of countries up, in GIGANTIC AFRICA, in Cameroun.

We were both sixteen, and Easter Vacation was coming up.  Cameroun was too far away and too expensive on the planes and all, in the seventies for my folks to be able to bring me home for the long Easter Vacation, so I didn’t really have anyplace to go, from my boarding hostel (MPH), and I was feeling sad at the prospect of spending all those lonely days all by myself in my empty  hostel while all my friends went home for the holidays!

My girlfriend rescued me!  She invited me home with her, to inland Congo, to spend the Easter Holidays with her and her family!  It was for ten days or two weeks.

Only, she and I waited with bated breath (or, at least, I waited with bated breath) because there was a potential problem.  I might not be able to go! They said I might be too fat and heavy to be able to go on the plane!

That’s because there was no road to the place in the jungle where they lived and, the only way for us to GET there was by Piper Cub Cessna Six-seater (I’m pretty sure that was the kind of a plane.  Something like that.  I know it was very small and light, a six-seater.)  There might not be room for me. The crosscultural worker families who lived out there needed to use most of the tiny plane’s carefully calculated luggage and weight allowances for food, medicines and supplies they needed, and the potential flight was already almost full.

Then, on the morning of March 24th, in the middle of First Period English Class , R. slipped me this note!

March 23

Dear Niña de Sus Ojos,

Guess what!!!

MAF has squeezed you onto the flight that I’m going up to V. on!  If you had been any bigger or fatter you wouldn’t have made it!  Doesn’t that make you glad that you’re the size you are?  (Note:  I had had to send in my WEIGHT notification, a couple of days earlier, to see if I would be able to get onto the flight or not!)

We’ll be leaving Thursday morning, probably around 11:00 or 12:00 for the airport.  Tell your hostel parents everything is clear.  Your way back on the boat is all arranged.  Praise the Lord!!!

It may be that it would be better if you spent the night here Wed. since I don’t think we’d be going to school that day.  I’m not sure about that yet, we may have to go for half a day.

Anyhow, you can set your mind at rest now.  The Lord is good.

Love,

R.

P.S.  Your entire trip will probably cost somewhere in between 28-30 zaires. (Note:  I’m trying to remember the exchange rate from then…..I think that was maybe around 50 dollars…)

__________________       ________________        ____________________

I only just found this old note, handwritten, slipped into an old journal notebook of mine from way back.  A couple of years ago, through letter writing, emailing, and Facebook, my highschool girlfriend and I renewed contact and correspondence with each other and are presently benefitting from each other’s communications and friendship even though we live on opposite sides of the world both in very remote locations.  Hopefully, she and I can be a mutual encouragement one to another, even after all these years.

Today, I thank God for my highschool girlfriend, I thank God for that wonderful trip with her, so many years ago now, and I thank God for the relationships  with HIM that my girlfriend and I had, even way back then when each of us were barely older than children, and also to this day, and continuing.  And I thank God for kindred spirit friendships.

I think that notes and letters, cards and emails, Facebook messages, Skypes with vidiocams, texts and phone calls, all variations on the NOTE, can  be  powerful tools for sharing God’s love and encouragement with others and for seeking to deepen our relationships one with another, whether these “others” be our own children, our grandchildren as they get older, our parents or grandparents, friends or acquaintances. We all know how important the thankyou note is.  How would short Scripture verse-headed notes or emails be, as an encouragement to a Christian friend or loved one?

I think of younger local friends, a married couple who are intentionally raising their three gradeschool-aged youngsters without a television set in the house.  I’ve noticed the three kids spend tons of time writing and drawing notes, little signs, and “funnies strips”, “cartoon strips”, with black and white line drawings that they create themselves.  Not to mention that half the time one meets up with these children they seem to have their nose in a book!  They often gift us with some of these creations, and we always LOVE getting them, and proudly display them on our refrigerator or around our house.  Our friends seem to be raising their kids to write and give and share NOTES.

People like us tend to have a lot of transitions in their lives, a lot of airplane trips, a lot of road trips, maybe a lot of moves.  Come to think of it, almost everyone tends to have a lot of transition, on one level or another these days!  More and more all the time!  I’ve one longtime friend who often gives tiny handwritten notes of exhortation and encouragement, with one small Bible verse that applies handwritten in there also, sealed up in a small envelope.  Before her friend leaves on a plane, she gives it, and says “Don’t open this yet!  Open it when you get on the plane!”  It’s so fun, and helpful.

My mom has a longtime cherished personal tradition by now of sometimes, for very special ocassions, giving books as family gifts, and she sometimes writes a short note, signed, in a front page of the gift book, all in her old-fashioned, beautiful, perfect “elementary schoolteacher 3rd Grade Palmer Method teaching hand”.  My grown children now have treasured little kid books, with her notes in the front of them, that they can now begin sharing with their own babies!

I know the concept of notes and letters is old-fashioned now, but does not that make the creating, the giving, and the recieving of one more special and valuable than ever?

I say, “Long live the NOTE, for God’s Glory!”


Our Friend Polly Puma

 

When I was a child my family (Mom, Dad and five siblings) were outreachers  in West Africa.  I loved my life as a child and teenager in West Africa in the sixties and seventies!  Here is a paper, for English class, that I wrote for Miss Orynitz (when we were on home assignment in Pennsylvania the year I was in Grade Nine.  It is about something that had happened to our family the previous two years in Africa.)

_________________                     ___________________              _______________________

62 pronouns              My Friend Polly                   25/25  A                  (La Niña de Sus Ojos)

10/18/71

6th Period

My Friend Polly

What is your favorite kind of animal?  Mine are dogs, horses, cats and parrots.  I’d like to tell you about one baby parrot that found a place in my heart.

Her name was Polly Puma because my father picked her up when he stopped for gas at the settlement of Puma, paying 250 francs for her.  (note:  equivalent of about 1 dollar)  She was only a baby, the downy fuzz still clung to her back, neck, and under her wings.  The two boys who sold her to Dad had been cruelly hurting and teasing her, and she was half-dead when she was finally brought to us.

We  kept her in a cardboard box in the dining room, feeding her mushed-up bananas and fa-fa (note:  home-processed manioc root).  She later ate mangos too.  At first she was deathly afraid of us, and really froze in fright whenever one of us looked in or tried to touch her.  Then Dad built a large roomy cage for her and we changed her living quarters to there.  Gradually she became less frightened and more tame.  Finally, she let me pick her up on my hands and she would perch there, head tilted, cooing at me, or nibble at the buttons on my blouse.

She loved bright, shiny, colored things.

Polly missed her mother and her playmates.  Every morning as the wild parrots flew overhead, whistling, she would squawk and scream for them, flapping her small wings.  She loved it when I scratched the top of her head and neck, cuddling her and making small, soft bird noises to her.

Gradually, her confidence grew and she even made friends with our dog.  She would flap and fuss and try to hop out of her cage every time we opened the door.  She would hardly eat a peanut unless it was handed to her.  We knew we were spoiling her, but we didn’t care.

Easter morning she got sick and died the next day.  A good friend was taken away from me just as I was learning to love her and know her.


A Fun Thing that Happened to Me in Congo at Easter

Those of ’round-about my generation or older, remember passing notes in highschool?

In my highschool, The American School of Kinshasa, Kinshasa, Congo we passed A LOT of notes!

Here’s a note, that got passed to me there in my school, by one of my  girlfriends, R., who was my age, in my grade, and who was also, like me, the daughter of crosscultural workers, only HER parents lived and worked in the middle of the jungle in Congo, while my family was up the Continent a hop, skip and a jump, by plane.  A couple of countries up, in GIGANTIC AFRICA, in Cameroun.

We were both sixteen, and Easter Vacation was coming up.  Cameroun was too far away and too expensive on the planes in the seventies for my folks to be able to bring me home for the long Easter Vacation, though they very much wanted to! They had arranged a good plan for me for the vacation, with trusted old friends in Kinshasa! But I wanted to go home!

My girlfriend invited me home with her, to inland Congo, to spend the Easter Holidays with her and her family!  It was for ten days or two weeks.

Only, she and I waited with bated breath (or, at least, I waited with bated breath) because there was a potential problem.  I might not be able to go! They said I might be too fat and heavy to be able to go on the plane!

That’s because there was no road to the place in the jungle where they lived and, the only way for us to GET there was by Piper Cub Cessna Six-seater (I’m pretty sure that was the kind of a plane.  Something like that.  I know it was very small and light, a six-seater.)  There might not be room for me. The crosscultural worker families who lived out there needed to use most of the tiny plane’s carefully calculated luggage and weight allowances for food, medicines and supplies they needed, and the potential flight was already almost full.

Then, on the morning of March 24th, in the middle of First Period English Class , R. slipped me this note!

March 23

Dear Niña de Sus Ojos,

Guess what!!!

MAF has squeezed you onto the flight that I’m going up to V. on!  If you had been any bigger or fatter you wouldn’t have made it!  Doesn’t that make you glad that you’re the size you are?  (Note:  I had had to send in my WEIGHT notification, a couple of days earlier, to see if I would be able to get onto the flight or not!)

We’ll be leaving Thursday morning, probably around 11:00 or 12:00 for the airport.  Tell your hostel parents everything is clear.  Your way back on the boat is all arranged.  Praise the Lord!!!

It may be that it would be better if you spent the night here Wed. since I don’t think we’d be going to school that day.  I’m not sure about that yet, we may have to go for half a day.

Anyhow, you can set your mind at rest now.  The Lord is good.

Love,

R.

P.S.  Your entire trip will probably cost somewhere in between 28-30 zaires. (Note:  I’m trying to remember the exchange rate from then…..I think that was maybe around 50 dollars…)

__________________       ________________        ____________________

I only just found this old note, handwritten, slipped into an old journal notebook of mine from way back.  A couple of years ago, through letter writing, emailing, and Facebook, my highschool girlfriend and I renewed contact and correspondence with each other and are presently benefitting from each other’s communications and friendship even though we live on opposite sides of the world both in very remote locations.  Hopefully, she and I can be a mutual encouragement one to another, even after all these years.

Today, I thank God for my highschool girlfriend, I thank God for that wonderful trip with her, so many years ago now, and I thank God for the relationships  with HIM that my girlfriend and I had, even way back then when each of us were barely older than children, and also to this day, and continuing.  And I thank God for kindred spirit friendships.

I think that notes and letters, cards and emails, Facebook messages, Skypes with vidiocams, texts and phone calls, all variations on the NOTE, can  be  powerful tools for sharing God’s love and encouragement with others and for seeking to deepen our relationships one with another, whether these “others” be our own children, our grandchildren as they get older, our parents or grandparents, friends or acquaintances. We all know how important the thankyou note is.  How would short Scripture verse-headed notes or emails be, as an encouragement to a Christian friend or loved one?

I think of younger local friends, a married couple who are intentionally raising their three gradeschool-aged youngsters without a television set in the house.  I’ve noticed the three kids spend tons of time writing and drawing notes, little signs, and “funnies strips”, “cartoon strips”, with black and white line drawings that they create themselves.  Not to mention that half the time one meets up with these children they seem to have their nose in a book!  They often gift us with some of these creations, and we always LOVE getting them, and proudly display them on our refrigerator or around our house.  Our friends seem to be raising their kids to write and give and share NOTES.

People like us tend to have a lot of transitions in their lives, a lot of airplane trips, a lot of road trips, maybe a lot of moves.  Come to think of it, almost everyone tends to have a lot of transition, on one level or another these days!  More and more all the time!  I’ve one longtime friend who often gives tiny handwritten notes of exhortation and encouragement, with one small Bible verse that applies handwritten in there also, sealed up in a small envelope.  Before her friend leaves on a plane, she gives it, and says “Don’t open this yet!  Open it when you get on the plane!”  It’s so fun, and helpful.

My mom has a longtime cherished personal tradition by now of sometimes, for very special ocassions, giving books as family gifts, and she sometimes writes a short note, signed, in a front page of the gift book, all in her old-fashioned, beautiful, perfect “elementary schoolteacher 3rd Grade Palmer Method teaching hand”.  My grown children now have treasured little kid books, with her notes in the front of them, that they can now begin sharing with their own babies!

I know the concept of notes and letters is old-fashioned now, but does not that make the creating, the giving, and the recieving of one more special and valuable than ever?

I say, “Long live the NOTE, for God’s Glory!”


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Let the children come to Me. Do not hinder them, for, of such as they, is made the Kingdom of Heaven. – Jesus Christ

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Excited, for school’s about to start up again!


Thanksgiving Day Update on the Children’s Outreach Side of Things

Today I was thankful to have received an email from my friend, the founder and director of the Children’s Outreach.  I’m in northern Guatemala at the moment – she’s in Germany at the moment!  The children are, of course, in Cochabamba, Bolivia, with good trustworthy day care during the hours that the program runs.  I get to Cochabamba this coming Monday; my friend gets to Cochabamba a little later in December.

She writes that the children are doing well, she’s doing well but missing the children tremendously and looking forward to returning to Cochabamba to be with them daily again.  I am too.

God is providing the needs of the Outreach, word about it is now getting out, a tiny bit more; people are PRAYING for it and for EACH OF THE CHILDREN, as well. Recently, two of the children and one of the moms came to personal faith in Jesus Christ and began their faith walk with HIM!  A few months ago, one of the WORKERS with this outreach, a young public university graduate in Psychology, did too and now she is growing spiritually in Jesus and being discipled by the words and truths of the Bible in community with the director, myself, others among the children and workers, and she’s attending local church now in Cochabamba.

Happy Thanksgiving Day, everybody!  I’m looking forward to getting home to Cochabamba on Monday and seeing the children…


All “my” children….

Since arriving back in Bolivia the other day, I’ve been catching up on the situations of our children, with my friend who spent the 20 years in Europe and then returned to her homeland, Bolivia, to start this outreach-a day program of educational and nutritional support  to children in the “Neighborhood”.

On Saturday night the father of one of our eleven-year-olds, Amalia*, was found murdered on the floor of one of the dozens of brothels in the zone. Amalia had been living with her father and her grandmother, because the child’s mother had been caught selling drugs and sent to prison a few months ago.  Amalia’s father had been well-known as a drug dealer in this area.

Now we are praying for God to make clear what a new and good living situation for Amalia might be, and help it to become a reality. She can not stay with the grandmother since the woman is cruel and irresponsible.