Here's a brief update on things:
Let me introduce you to Vicky. She walks me and Emily to the bus every day. She is our protector 😉. She brought this dress specifically for a picture with us 💗.
Emily and I were both sick for a couple days last week. We ate a lot of granola and Pedialyte and are much better! The doctor diagnosed us with amoebas.
A fantastic team from Nebraska has now joined us for a week. We love them! They are awesome. We joined them at the daycare for a Bible story and piñata fun!
Emily and I have been working at the daycare center all week. The students that attend range from ages 2-15. It is a daycare center because they don't have any specific instruction that occurs there. Some students go to school somewhere for part of the day and then stay at the center the rest of the day. Many parents are in bad situations like abusive relationships, alcoholism, or prostitution. They pay $3 a month for their students to attend the center. The kids flock to us and crave our hugs and love.
Casa de Caleb
Monday we went with the team to a nursing home called Casa de Caleb. I had an awesome experience with a patient there. Here is my story of "The Man with the Blue Eyes."
The Guatemalan sun was hot and bright as we stepped out of the van, a little car sick from the twisting curves and intoxicating scent of the thick exhaust.
We were all quiet as we walked into the dark room. The smell of urine was strong. The room was lined with elderly men and women in their wheel chairs, their faces dark complected and a bit solemn.
It's strange how God can erase physical boundaries when you are meeting people with the prime purpose of showing them His love. Hugging these strangers and holding their hands came naturally as I communicated with them through my broken Spanish.
I sat down next to a woman and had just finished basic conversational topics when a nurse wheeled a man up beside me. I noticed that his skin was much lighter than the other patients'. As he lifted his head to look at me, his eyes shocked me. Light blue. Something about his eyes were so familiar and gentle to me. He looked like my dad. As I looked into his eyes, I felt like I was looking at my dad again.
I started speaking to him in Spanish, and he was only able to return small indistinguishable mumbles. After a few minutes of struggling to hear him, I realized that he was speaking to me in English! I was overjoyed!
What was this light-skinned, blue-eyed, English-speaking man doing in a nursing home in Guatemala?
All of a sudden he stopped talking to me. His eyes lit up and a huge smile came across his face. I noticed that he was looking past me into the lobby. A young Guatemalan girl was standing in the lobby looking at him. I thought he would jump out of his chair with excitement! I motioned for her to come in. She walked in and gave him a big hug; his smile widened.
I asked her if he was her grandfather, and she explained that he was her dad. She was so excited that I was there talking to him. She only spoke Spanish, but her ears were perfectly attuned to understand her father's jumbled whispers.
We sat in a little circle together. I spoke to her dad in English; he mustered up a whispered response to her in Spanish, and she delivered his response to me in Spanish. We sat there in beautiful connectedness as our conversation flowed through the three of us for almost an hour.
During this time, I learned the story if his life:
-He was born in Italy.
-When he was twenty he moved to Louisiana and played football for LSU while he studied dentistry.
-When he was twenty-four he joined the Marines and travelled to many different countries. He lived in Panama for a while and eventually Guatemala.
-He is now 76.
-His daughter that was visiting is 14 and is the youngest of 14 children that live in several countries including the U.S. and Canada.
He mention where everyone lived a few times during the conversation. Each time this happened, his eyes tinted pink and welled up with tears. His low whisper became shaky as he mumbled, "And I am here alone." It was clear that this statement bothered his young daughter, but she remained strong and stroked his hand.
Near the end of our time together, he looked at me with his eyes full of purpose, determined to convey something.
Very clearly I heard, "Romans 8:28." At this, I pulled out my Bible and read it for us: "All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose."
He explained that he had been raised Catholic and came to know Jesus personally when he visited a Protestant church when he was 24. After this, he started reading the Bible and completed reading it entirely in three months.
As I got up to leave, he clenched my hand and his eyes filled with tears again as he whispered "I love you" several times.
I left the nursing home full.
All I could see was his eyes. His eyes set him apart from everyone else. His eyes communicated for him. His eyes connected me to him.
I thought about a song by Matthew West:
Give me your eyes for just one second.
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I've been missing.
Give me your eyes for humanity.
God did not just give me this man's eyes. He was giving me His own eyes. God was giving me a little glimpse through His lenses- His eyes that see far better than mine. They see brokenness, frustration, heartache, love, worth. They see reality. In that time, God gave me a little bit if His heart for humanity.
Throughout this past week, Emily and I have had to make some big decisions together. We were asked to move to an indigenous community to live for a week. We went back and forth about going. We couldn't feel a conviction in either direction. Based on our uneasiness and how difficult it was to make a decision, we decided not to go. It was so hard and stressful. We prayed and wrestled with the decision for three days. It was exhausting.
Unfortunately, declining this opportunity caused a lot of conflict.
We made this decision Monday morning. The man in the nursing home shared Romans 8:28 with me around lunch. Not knowing about the man from the nursing home, a woman shared Romans 8:28 with me again that afternoon. That night, Emily's mom shared that same verse with her.
It became clear to us that although we had not felt God in our decision-making process, He was clearly sending us a message of comfort and peace- encouraging us to continue seeking Him.
We have been called according to His purpose. We are not promised that all things will be good through our own eyes. We are promised that He will work them together for good through His perfect, unchanging, grace-filled perspective.