August 10, 2015
What a day! We left early this morning to go to the Bush. We drove a 20 year old truck 20 miles and it took over 45 minutes to get there on a very bumpy and dusty road. Manuel is over Green Door and church planted there to minister to the poorest of the poor. To set the setting...there is probably 200 church members, over 100 being children. They walk up to 2 miles to come to church and had to miss a day in the fields to come to this special event at the church where there would be a food distribution. These people haven't seen much rain this year, so their crops aren't doing well, which means they don't eat consistently. We pulled up to the church building, literally in the middle of nowhere, and you could hear the singing from inside probably a mile away. There were a couple of men playing on makeshift drums and about 5 women on the stage singing and dancing their hearts out. The church was packed and very energetic.
Pastor Manuel had to eventually stop the music, or they would have continued for hours. He asked the children to go outside with Christa and his wife to have bible stories and playtime. He called me up to speak to the adults. I told them about my family and why I was here. I tried to give them helpful tips for marriage and parenting. How do I explain what a healthy family looks like to women who think their husbands beating them is a sign of love? To men who have multiple wives and families? To parents who don't have a relationship with their children? I read some of my favorite scriptures and spoke about love and respect in a marriage. Tried to articulate how to be relational and intentional with your children and how they are looking up to you and watching what you do, even when you don't think they are.
After I spoke, Manuel opened up for questions. Most of the women had more prayer requests than questions. From the woman that desperately wanted a family, to the man who's children didn't obey him or go to school when they were suppose to, to the woman who took in her husband's second wife's children when she died, to the woman who feels like her husband treats her like an animal, to the woman who hides going to church for fear of her husband beating her to death. It's impossible to express how hard every aspect of these people's lives are.
Once the questions were over, they pulled me on stage and made me dance with them. I don't even know what to say about? There's a video floating around somewhere that shall never be posted. Then the women gave me a capallanna and told me to wear it and think of them. Most people here have expressed that they don't feel like anyone cares about them. That's mostly true. We create so many "problems" of our own, that it's hard to care for someone across the globe that has actual problems. I will never forget my time with them.
We left and visited one of the two Green Door homes in the Bush. The man of the house had a hand disability. Him, his wife and baby were found sleeping under a stick tent. He recently was given a home. I asked him what the biggest blessing to come out of having a home was? He said, "I'm 27 years old and for the first time in my life, I can dream about my future." He dreams about one day having furniture in his home and having a place to raise his children. Something as simple as a $2200 house can make the BIGGEST impact on a family here.
We headed back to church for lunch. The women had made us rice and boiled chunks of a whole chicken. It looked a little scary, but actually tasted great! I talked in depth with Manuel about ideas for marketing Green Door. He is so nice and receptive to anything that would make this ministry better. He talked about his vision for the future of his church, how he'd love for it to one day be a school for the children here. Such an inspiring man.
We left and visited the other Green Door home there which belonged to a set of grandparents that had lost all of their children and were taking care of 7 grandchildren. Because Green Door homes have inheritance papers, he knows that his grandchildren will be okay when him and his wife die.
The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping in town and grocery shopping in the only grocery store near by. It was actually really nice and you could find just about anything you needed there...including a decent wine selection! We came home to Natalia's spaghetti which is noodles, vegetables and a little tomato sauce. It was delicious. Braxton, Todd, Christa, Afonso and Rafa ate here and then I made them affogato for dessert. They loved it and I'm pretty sure I am now their favorite American ever.