(Note: This is a journal entry from a past trip ... not a real time entry.)
Today has been an adventure. I went with the women to trade supplies with people from the nearest village. I am so humbled with the way they have accepted our intrusion into their world. On the way to the meeting place, I wondered to myself how the other group would perceive my presence … it’s not like I exactly blend in and can be invisible. As we neared the gathering, two of these dear ladies linked their arms with mine and introduced me as their friend … their amiga buen.
Quite an elaborate network has been established here … exchanging different grains, freshly caught fish, fruits. We even brought back a chicken and a rabbit with us. The last two items I’m not going to think about very much … and I hope they’re still here when I leave. Living near the river, fish makes up a big part of the weekly menu. Geographic proximity has made at least one healthy eating choice a given. On other days, the men exchange other items and visit with one another. The men here are eager to share their new ideas with their neighbors to the north.
The women and I traded information today. While talking about ways to safely clean, prepare and store foods, I learned to make tortillas from scratch. Really, seriously from scratch … and to cook them on a clay stove. I think that more than anything, I provided the entertainment for the evening in my clumsy attempts to shape the dough … these ladies effortlessly and efficiently produce perfectly symmetrical circles … mine took on all sorts of interesting shapes. The high point of my day was hearing one of the mothers explaining to her young son the things she had learned today … lavado … limpiar … the cycle has begun.
Reyna is 31. She is beautiful, with eyes that dance when she laughs and a smile that takes my breath. She's brought five children into this world ... three of them died before reaching the first birthday. Her husband comes and stands quietly as she shares her story, supporting her with his presence. Having lost a child of my own, my heart and mind can't even begin to comprehend the immensity of enduring that three times. Tears fill both her eyes and mine as she speaks … the toddler in her arms squirms and pats her face as he settles into sleep. Because of her age, she will most likely bear more children. This is the way of things here.
I struggle with questions of acceptance and respect and culture. Part of me wants to be able to 'fix' so many things ... and another part of me ... the wiser part ... knows that to even attempt to do so would only leave brokenness. I'm thankful for team members who are committed to a policy of "first do no harm" and who recognize that something doesn't necessarily need to be fixed just because we don't fully understand it.