Sunday, July 01, 2012

wide open spaces

a couple years ago there was a little girl who lived with us for a few weeks while her parents were both hospitalized. Since then we've only seen her a handful of times - they live rather far away.

a couple months after she lived with us her dad was well enough to be released from the hospital. Two of my friends helped them go home so we would know where they lived. At a certain point the taxi they were riding in stopped and they continued on by moto. After that they came to a place where they motos stopped as well and they walked further up a mountain to their home.

about a month later they called to tell us there had been a fire and their house and belongings were all lost.

almost another month later I got a phone call from the mom telling us the dad had died and could we come see them. she was now 24 widowed with three little girls. my heart hurt for her. the next morning a couple of us rode out to their new house with some basic belongings we'd gathered to give them. they were living on a huge orchard picking whatever fruit or vegetable was ready for harvest. Sometimes the adults would travel to other surrounding properties all dependent on where there was work.

the landowner was kind to this family and since he knew they could not afford a proper funeral he offered to burn the body for them. they were preparing for that when we arrived. after talking to the mother and a handful of other people who were they took us to one of the other houses for us to wait. some time later the oldest of the three daughters in the family came. she was six or seven. she pointed to a place in the distance where we could see smoke starting to rise. simply, matter-of-factly, she informed us that was her father. he died. they're burning him.

periodically since then we make visits out to see them, but not very often. i do not remember when the mom left and it became the grandmother and the aunts who were taking care of the girls.

there was one morning I was home teaching a group of kids who were here and I saw a grandmother and a little girl come in the gate and up to the house. it's not an entirely unusual occurrence here. she sat down on the porch and waited for us to talk to her - and I still had not recognized them. the little girl had grown so much.

there have been little phone calls from the grandmother telling us how much the little girl is growing, how she's walking now and beginning to talk, she's eating solid foods now and doing well. sweet little moments of her grandmother being proud of her and loving her.

a few days ago we went to visit them. they moved again recently. they were no longer allowed to stay on the orchard they were living on before, so a whole group of them are now living on another orchard. the grandmother met out taxi on the main road. she had to come down to fill out some paperwork that morning anyways. our taxi driver was skeptical about the quality of the road as we turned in, but she assured him cars drove on it all the time.

about half way through I started to wonder how we would ever be able to get these girls registered for school if they lived all the way out here. the grandmother kept saying we're almost there, but her definition of "almost" is a little different than mine. every time we'd see a cluster of houses I'd think okay, that's it, but she was never telling us to stop until you couldn't go any farther.

they live in a wide open space. it's beautiful. the road in looks more like a dried out riverbank in many places than a road, but we did make it. there is very little there that man has made, that man has touched. they live in what they call a shelter and not a house. it is more of a raised pavilion with tarps as walls. there are motos that drive through each day with food the driver's bought from the market which you can in turn purchase from them. a few of the other kids who live there ride bikes to school on the main road. they say the teacher is kind and they like going to school. they say they stay dry whenever it rains.

as we were getting ready to go i asked the grandmother if they needed anything. in some ways her reply surprised me. she said no, we have everything we need. she is so content. she has a peace and joy about her that you don't see everywhere. they are not our poorest family, but by no means are they materially rich, but she has figured out that life is so much more than that.

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