It is the simple service that often gets our attention. I was soaked from the rain. I should know by now that I always need to bring an umbrella. It’s rainy season. But it is hard sometimes to pack a big bulky umbrella when the sun is shining and there is not a dark cloud in the sky. So I was soaked from the rain, shivering as I sat in the shade at a community meeting outside of the church in San Antonio En Medio.
We had driven hours outside of the city, out of the city and into el campo. We climbed mountains and slid across muddy paths in the Land Cruiser, finally reaching a community far from the main road. When we arrived, community leaders Dagalberto, Sandra, Berti, Tereso, and others greeted us; all of them remembering my name. During the meeting, I marveled, once again, at the beautiful mix of leaders - there were farmers, members of the protestant church, the catholic church, the health committee, and representatives from ENLACE. We were discussing an initiative that could potentially get clean water to the homes in their area. We opened the meeting with a prayer.
A little girl named Mirna sat by my side with her younger brother. They were both wearing flip flops that had been passed out at the public school by an American team that came this summer. I recognized her as the girl who followed me quietly, keeping her eyes on my camera, just waiting to pose for another picture. She recognized me as the one who took her photo. Looking at me with tender eyes, she reached out to me cautiously during the meeting, taking one of my hands into hers. At first she touched my hand with both of hers, petting it a bit; then turning it over like she was making a tortilla or a pupusa, slowing patting both sides. Finally she held onto my hand gently and watched it intently as if it might somehow change. I watched her closely too, trying to understand her apparent fascination with my hands. I thought maybe she was examining my light colored skin, so different from her beautiful coffee-colored hands. “Blanca.” I said after some time. White. “Helado,” she responded. Cold. But I realized at that moment that I had stopped shivering. Mirna, with her small gentle hands, had been keeping me warm.
As her father attended the community meeting and helped to discuss how the community could get potable water to its families, Mirna recognized a need that she, herself, could fulfill and in doing so warmed my hands and touched me profoundly. It is this simple service: reaching out when we recognize a need, which changes lives and transforms communities. Imagine a community filled with members who truly see the needs of their people, and they reach out to them, collaborating and cooperating with them to fulfill the needs. It is possible.
It is why I’m here.
It is why I’m here.