Friday, January 28, 2011

The old can be new

I've always had a fondness for your stereotypical mean old person. Wether it is a man whose scowl can wilt flowers or an elderly woman with a vocabulary that parallels with a sailor, I think it's hilarious. That may make me sound unkind so I'll explain. In La Granha near the medical center in Tegucigalpa there in a nursing home that caters to the less fortunate abuelos. They either have no family and can afford to pay for their stay or they have family member who can't (or won't) take care of them. Latrica is a toothless, half deaf, surly 78 year young woman with eyes so dialated you would think she was drugged... She might have been. My first visit consisted of her telling me I was going to take her upstairs to her room because our program gave her "pain in her head." After that I was hooked. Wether she wanted to or not she had just made a friend. I went back this time with a plan. Instead of helping her up I was just going to play the gringa card and pretend I didn't understand what she was saying. That way I could just sit tight beside her and she would have to listen to the devotional. Flawless plan. "No hablo espaƱol" works everytime.
At the door we were met by Rena, a retired professor at the university who we later learned had been "dropped off" by her son and forgotten. She told use about all of her world riches: her 3 houses, nice clothes and 20 thousand dollars she had in the bank. She seemed happy enough as I loosely translated her story to those around us. After we passed Rena I saw my target and grabbed the seat across from her. Our director invited her to come sit with everyone and sing and on cue she said "you all are crazy!" Soon the seat next to her opened up and I saw my opportunity. No sooner had I sat down she saw her opportunity to grab my arm and gesture up the stairs. I ignored her, got up and went to sing giving her the "not this time signal." I tried again and she made the same gesture as soon as I sat down only this time I was distracted and really did ignore her. From the top of the stairs Rena began her decent of fury. Suitcase in hand and her shrill vocal attack on the home sent literal chills down my back. She was leaving and no one was going to stop her. "I have three houses! I'm leaving this place. You can't stop me!" Our previous conversation had obviously made her livid about her current living situation, sparking some kind of rage that could be compared to a head shy horse with crazy eyes. As she exited the building I got that third tap on my arm and the gesture to go up the stairs. Not wanting to make another scene I thought "What the heck. Up we go!" Two birthdays later we made it to the top and found a nice comfortable place to rest.
Rena began her assent to the top of the stairs.
I froze.
"Where are my clothes?! You have them! What did you do with them?!"
As her flailing arms got closer to my money maker I St. Peter's image came to mind. I was really disappointed! I thought living in Honduras I would at least get killed in a car wreck or by a gang member or some crack king whose path I accidentally crossed. But no. It would be a 67 year old, 5'6", ticked off homeowner of three... Dang it.
I ducked and she corned me next to Latricia. There was that tap on my arm again only this time it was met with the most unexpected kind face. "Sit down and don't say anything. That woman is crazy!" it was like some stifled maternal memory surfaced as Latricia took my under her wing until Hurricane Rena went back into her room.
It was awesome! I had finally cracked her!
Then came that tap on the arm.
"You can leave now." Latricia was back to her cranky self and that single moment of normalcy faded as Rena's voice got further away.
I left her more confused and shaken than ever. Until I was reminded in Proverbs of the honor of what it would be to grow old. The wisdom I could gain from a woman like Latricia would be more than my 25 year old mind could handle. She is alone and hungry for Love and I think I'm just the person to introduce her to the ultimate love. I'm not going to give up on her. In fact my next approach will involve some patients and some pretty suave slippers as a peace offering/thanks for saving my life.
"The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair." -Proverbs 20:29

Friday, January 7, 2011

As my stay in Honduras progresses, I keep reflecting on graduation ceremonies. For the record I think they are a joke. The hats are terrible, the ceremonies are painfully long, and the gowns take away all individuality each student once had for 4 years. The worst part though is the speaker. "We did it!" "This isn't the end this is the beginning of a new chapter!" "Congratulations, you get to begin life now!" So annoying! They get you really excited for new life prospects when (and I'm ball-parking this based on my own friends) 70% of us just end up with an hourly paid job and little to no benefits. So, I say we strike the graduation ceremony from existence and celebrate another mile marker in life instead.
Why not celebrate the day you become a Christian or the day you start following him with your entire being? (Still with out the cap and gown... they are awful.) "It's be beginning of the end/beginning!" "Congratulations you get to begin a new life now!" The only difference is, that this ceremony should never end.
The group I traveled with went to La Victoria and watched the most epic sunrise. The scenery can't even be described, and a picture can't do it justice. I'm pretty sure a Crayola box melted in the sky and you could hear the "The Circle of Life" song by Elton John bouncing in the air as the sun broke the horizon... mainly because Tommy was humming it, but that's not the point. It was one of the most beautiful celebration of colors my eyes have captured. It brought me to Psalms 100.
As I sat surrounded by family, extended family, and friends that I consider to be family, I was beyond overwhelmed. In that moment, I felt God calling, I felt the heavens celebrating and eternal love that would endure forever. No matter what hard times where to come on the mission field and no matter what loneliness would try to overtake me, I knew that the Lord is God. I stayed on the mountain top for a while after everyone left and shouted to the Lord. The house below me thought I was a crazy gringa, but it didn't matter. (Since we all look the same, I'll just blame it on some one else when I go back.)
As a result of that morning, I'm a huge fan of celebrating God and entering his gates with thanksgiving for all he has created. Being reborn as a Christian has it's perks, eternal life, the best commencement speaker, the gowns are gold, and you get to wear crowns instead of caps. I've always seen myself in a tiara... Plus, the speaker made hand outs that are 600 pages, single spaced, and not boring at all.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. - Psalms 100