We arrived at the community at our gathering point, just outside the three classrooms of the school building, creating a bit of a commotion as some of the children burst from the classroom to greet us. We have become more efficient in preparing to go into the homes, with a group effort to cut the wire mesh that wraps the stovepipes to create a barrier for inadvertent touches by little fingers. Our team was excited to learn it our destination was going to be our first turn in the upper reaches of the community. The walk in to the first home became a hike, with ever increasing effort required as the trail became steeper. It was a marvel to see the steep fields of corn and marvel at the effort it must take to cultivate and harvest the annual planting cycle of corn and beans.
We arrived at the home after our strenuous climb, gazing across the valley at the splendor of the valley of the community. We have come to determine the relative wealth of each home by the little nuances: the siding of the home was either very uneven or had close tolerances, the presence of a little garden or not to create a variety of food, the evenness of the dirt floor, and the number of occupants as measured against the space available in the home. Our first home today was a home of little material means, consisting of an older man, his unmarried 25 year old daughter, and the two children she had cared for since her sister had died some years before. The siding was uneven, the dirt floor required a lot of work to create a level spot for the stove, and there were very few material possessions evident.But we were enthusiastically welcomed as members of the community with a god in common. We went to our by now familiar work, brick by brick, piece by piece, climbing what passes for a ladder to cut a hole in the corrugated metal roof, sealing the hole around the pipe, and topping it off with a “sombrero” cap. Our interpreter then gave instructions about the stove, building the fire as she talked while the open table cooking fire of the day still created a smoky environment inside the home.
We ended with prayers offered by the residents and our team. The father thanking god to deliver us to them and present them with this gift, and we offering that our little gift couldn’t measure the gift of welcome this family had offered us today by welcoming us into their home. Then up the hill some more, on to the next home, and continue our journey.