Yesterday was a long day of work, so by the time we had dinner, said our goodbyes to the girls and had a meeting, this leader was too spent to write about our day. Whew!
We started Friday off with visiting two long-time friends of the Villa who have been battling illness and needed some cheer. Don Salvadore is a long time friend of Wilbert and used to work at the Villa as a driver, among other things. He has been battling what sounds like shingles in his left eye and has been in a lot of pain. We walked to his house, sat around him and some of his old friends shared fond memories of his times at the Villa and what he means to them. He and his wife of 39 years shared their family story and offered advice on how to have a long and happy marriage. It was beautiful. They were so grateful for the company of friends.
Next we stopped by Candida's home. She also lives close by and has a long history with Wilbert... she was his Sunday school teacher!! Her family all lives in separate houses on the same property, it's a little family compound. Candida and her daughter make the tortillas that we eat at the villa. Candida has diabetes and is now confined to a wheelchair. As soon as we gathered around her in chairs she started crying because she was so happy we came to visit. She and her husband of 57 years also gave us tips for what makes a long marriage and shared their family story. After seeing so much brokenness and fatherlessness in Nicaragua it was so wonderful to see two examples of loving, tender, committed marriages.
After a quick lunch back at the Villa we went to Teseros de Dios (Treasures of God), a holistic healing facility for handicapped children. The staff were such incredibly humble, gracious and loving people. Our mission for the day was to pamper not only the staff, but specifically to love on, listen to and pray for the mothers of 6 handicapped children.
When I realized our team was larger than needed for 6 women I prodded the administrator for what else we could do. "Can we help with their children?" She said they were downstairs having PT and we could help them with sensory therapy. Six of us went downstairs and entered a room that will forever change me. I had no idea "handicapped" meant children with severe Cerebral Palsy. After we caught our breath we took our shoes off, grabbed some lotion and massaged these little curled, frail limbs for the next hour while holding back tears. I am changed.
As if that wasn't enough to change me..... when their mothers came to take them home the love and care they showed their children was priceless. These women have made something wonderful out of something broken. They have created a community of mothers that pray together, study the bible together and hold each other up.
Last night as our team gathered for our debrief we talked about the day and the week. The re-occuring theme that keeps popping up is COMMUNITY. We could see the difference a community made to those we served this week. The parents at the hospital didn't have a community and didn't seem to have much hope. The parents at Teseros de Dios had a community that brought them hope, love and joy. It is a good lesson for all of us to not "do" life alone. When we reach out, share our sorrow and joy with others and hold each other up, the navigation of life is so much easier and beautiful.
A quick note to those of you who have family traveling with me...... be gentle with them. We've had a beautiful and emotional week. Hugs are good. Thank you for sharing your family with me!
Team picture before Siena's departure
Don Salvadore and his wife