In Australia, or, “The Empty Nest”
-a poem by NinadesusOjos
In Australia I watched kangaroos and wallabies.
In a small zoo, saw
surreal koalas eating gum,
Boxy chocolate kookaburras,
Pea green tree frogs with Yoda faces,
a family of them, eleven,
all different sizes,
piled on top of each other
like a heap of sticky emeralds.
Small gray wallabies like babies,
Tall rangey kangaroos like gawky
All the females
with their offspring in their pouch,
safely, cozy, in their pouch.
But my children, oh, they’re FAR away!
What makes a home?
I never thought I could envy a wallaby.
Zookeepers told, “Joeys keep their offspring
near the pouch two years or longer.”
How many, translated to humans?
I never believed I could envy a kangaroo…
I watched those females,
their young safe within their pouch
or hopping nearby, blythe,
ready to dive back in at sign
Those moms grazed alert, brooding,
My children, so far away,
now with only God vigilant over them
each night and day. (NOT ME!)
No longer me…
I place them, yet again,
in HIS care each day.
No longer me…
Every once-in-a-while if I am to wake up at three or four 0-clock in the morning, usually only if we are sleeping in the front bedroom, that windows onto Alto de la Alianza Street, I will hear the “cleferos” (yellow glue-sniffers) (children, teens, and twenty-somethings) who live in the streets and in the dry river-bed strolling and shouting and sometimes banging sticks, along our street. I am not sure, but think that they are the ones most often responsible for writing with spray paint on everybody’s property walls. This is a wall just across the narrow street from where we live. The text reads, ” If God does exist after all, well then, I hope He has a good excuse for things!” Poignant. Expressive of the social, spiritual, political and economic mindset of hundreds and thousands of indigent and non-indigent persons. I think much graffiti all over the world is. I thank God for showing me my personal field to work in and giving me love for and interest in, people, since I could NEVER produce that myself, starting literally one step outside my door. But I don’t go out alone at three or four o-clock in the morning and, it’s a different world in the daytime, actually very safe!
A few of the more serious and heartfelt posts on here I need to make sure I give without any photos. This will be one. Good exercise for me to try to describe my experience and my resultant thoughts about it, to you, in words alone without the “crutch” of photographs.
Three afternoons ago, at six o’clock, I thanked my hubby for giving me a ride out to the ministry where I help a tiny bit, gave him a kiss and jumped out of his jeep and briefly rang the doorbell on my friend’s property, then let myself in the black-painted metal pedestrian door with the painted tin can lid on a wire covering over the hole you can stick your arm through to open the slide-bar from the outside.
Three of us, all women, met up and a tiny white rattle-trap taxi had been called. The driver pulled up outside and we opened one side of the metal car door to the property and started carrying out, bit by bit, two brand new wooden bunk beds, two new foam-with-fiber, and a sewn cover on the outside mattresses, and the drawers and ladder to the bunk beds. The driver loosely lashed some of the bunk bed parts to the top of the roof rack where they towered, looking a bit like a a two-year-old’s efforts to play Jenga, and we three gals piled into the taxi. The driver took off slowly, easing over the bumps and ruts and through heavy traffic. After driving a short distance, we pulled up in front of a sprawling, run-down old brothel.
“HERE?????” How surprised and embarrassed the driver was! Yes, here. My friend had called ahead and, the paint-peeled metal door to that rundown brothel property was open, and three little children, siblings, R., G. and M. were already waiting for us out in front, joyfully jumping up and down, big smiles on their little faces!
Let me back up a little. This ministry, where I help out a little is an outreach of sharing the Good News, and also teaching the Bible, to, principally, about fifty teens and children and some of their family members, each of the kids and teens of which is the child of sex trade workers and clients. The raison d’être and goal of the ministry is to see each child saved and protected, on every level and provide surrogate Christian “family” to each child. The ministry platform/felt need/way we get access to these children and teens used for the outreach is after-school homework support and nutritional support, for the children. Ours is a day program, not an orphanage. About half our kids are extremely malnourished when they first come into the center. About a quarter of them have not been signed up for free public schooling; the first thing we do for a child is make sure that they are signed up for school, and then, we help them each day with their homework, plus give them nutritious simple lunch, snack and tea or breakfast, since their moms don’t cook or give them regular meals. (To be continued…)
Epilogue Part One: Why would we do this – go to such a place? There’s only one reason – identical motivations for all three of us – for the sake of the children. These young lives. These little persons. Jesus would have gone to that place, for them. You go to such a place, a prayer on your lips and in your heart,sticking close one with another every second with your co-workers, one hundred percent only for the sake of Christ and for the sake of those three children, those three little siblings, R., G. and M., who are in our program, who live inside that brothel with their mother, who do not have a dad, and who sleep together with their mom and each other in one small dirty bed – the four of them, which is the bed, in the room, where their mother also plies her trade. This family’s home is that one tiny, windowless room, with no table and no chair. Partially it is a family of five, not four, because another one of our little boys in the ministry, J., gets left by his mom for weeks at a time, frequently, with R., G., and M. and their mom, to live. Okay, so, that’s four boys, the oldest of whom has turned 12, though he’s tiny and looks MUCH younger. And one little girl, and that mom. All sleeping in one bed. We were taking the new wooden bunkbeds, and mattresses, to fit into the side of that tiny dark room, for the children – the 3 boys to sleep in one bunk and the little girl, G., to have her own bed, the other bunk. That was our project, that was our dream for G., R., M. and J. THAT was our reason, our ONLY reason, for going to such a place.
“Prayer is the way to both the heart of God and the heart of the world — precisely because they have been joined through the suffering of Jesus Christ.” – Henry Nouwen in “Love in a Fearful Land”.
Had a strange but heartwarming, though scary at moments and overwhelming at moments afternoon. Yesterday. The afternoon also had a deep underlying current of sadness, to me.
Then again, this morning, just now! Same general KIND of thing, a bit, but on a MUCH smaller scale.
One thing. In spite of all our problems and struggles, at least our life is not BORING!
Okay, so, the little one, this morning, is just this. Suddenly, and without our windows being open, we both heard prolonged, absolutely BLOOD-CURDLING screams and shouts coming from the general direction of the little-bit second-rate in this city, these days, TENNIS-PLAYING PLACE across the little narrow street from our flat. We can look down into it, into the BACK of it, from our windows. The screams and shouts and words were from one woman or girl – extremely emotionally charged – it really sounded like somebody was being murdered. And some of the words were, “Stop it, STOP it! YOU ARE CHOKING ME!” Repeated, prolonged screams.
We RAN to our windows and we opened them, and we shouted out, “STOP THAT! LEAVE OFF!” The screams stopped immediately! There was a young woman, down on the ground, and a big guy next to her – they had tennis caps on, and rackets lying nearby. We could see them. We think they saw us. We had SHOCKED them – they got quiet, looked over and up, at our windows. Then, they kind of went back at it again, for a little bit, at a slightly reduced volume. There were other persons there too – there was a group. She was up, unharmed apparently, and she went after him!
We felt embarrassed about what we had done but then, we thought, “NO! It’s GOOD you did that”. Because after a few seconds, she stopped yelling. We checked again just now – all’s been silent over there, which is good. And, it has started poring RAIN, just this second! Yay! Thank YOU, Lord! Now, they are all gone – they went home. That’s good. I don’t know if they were drinking and fighting viciously, or what. Whatever it was, it’s GOOD, not bad, that we were able to help put an end to it.
Now, I’ve written on here long enough for one day. I’ll save the other experience, the HUGE one, the one that I am very much still processing in my heart, for this evening or for tomorrow.