I never thought much about this phrase of the Lord's Prayer. When I did think about it, I sort of viewed it as an anachronism, something that people needed to pray for in the time of Jesus Christ when there were no HEBs, Winn-Dixies, Piggly Wigglys, or Walmarts. But how could it be relevant now, when even people who need to rely on food pantries can often get enough bread to last a week. Praying for bread, everyday? It didn't compute with me, except in an abstract way, like thinking of bread as representing human needs.
In Ecuador, this U. S. citizens has had his eyes opened. The vast majority of people here eat bread everyday. I didn't do that when I lived in Texas or Louisiana, but now I also eat bread here nearly everyday. At times, a meal in Ecuador consists entirely of bread, with coffee, tea, or (if one is fortunate) milk. The only time that ever happened to me in the U. S. was when I was very, very young and we were very, very poor. Then, we sometimes had pieces of bread put in a glass of pasteurized (but not homogenized) milk for supper. My brother and I considered that a treat. We didn't know that that was all our single mother could afford. We didn't know we were poor. There are many poor people in Ecuador.
In Ecuador, like I said, people eat bread everyday, especially in the towns and cities. (People living on farms may not rely on bread as much, as they can eat the things they grow, like corn, beans, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, etc.) More than that, as in most places that have a large majority of poor people, people in towns and cities either buy, bake, or beg bread each day. Why would you buy bread each day when you could buy it for a week? An efficient person with sufficient funds would not buy bread everyday, unless they always wanted to have fresh bread.
Ah, but did you notice that phrase "sufficient funds"? Many people here do not have "sufficient funds" to buy bread for a week, or five days, or two days. Many people live basically from day to day. That's the main reason they buy, or bake, or beg bread each day. And they probably pray that they'll be able to do one of those three things each day.
I mentioned that my family was very, very poor when I was young in Louisiana. We were very, very rich in the love we had for each other. Here, I'm a rich man, especially as regards Ecuadorian standards. I sometimes admit to myself that I'm poorer regarding the love I share with other people. Is it because I'm richer materially? Could be. Do I want to give all of my possessions away? No. I'm too much of a realist for that. I know deep down that life would be harder, even if someone besides Marilyn took it upon themselves to care for me - and her.
We are exceptions to the rule here. We can afford to buy bread for ourselves and the family we live with for three or four days at a time. Does that help distance us from the people we seek to serve? There's no doubt that it does. But we do break bread with the family, and others, everyday. I think, as well as hope, that that helps bring us closer to the meaning of, "Danos Hoy Nuestro Pan de Cada Día".
Yes, our daily bread here in Mexico is corn tortillas.
Bread is also a staple in the diet of Nigerians in Lagos. At the grocery stores, we see Nigerians load up a cart with many loaves of rectangular, unsliced sandwich bread. It is relied upon because of its affordability and that it takes a while to digest, thus filling an empty stomach for longer, cheaply. We often see men in groups with an open loaf (shared) where men pull handfuls out of the loaf and use it to sop up the liquid from their vegetable meal. No utensils used for eating. It is a humbling sight.
Before I got up, and while Marilyn was talking to her mom on the phone, Margoth dropped by. She worked at the Hacienda Ally Micuy while we were living there (see Tres Amigas, Plus Us). Her mother and sobrino (nephew) came with her. Since I wasn’t up yet, Marilyn brought them into the bedroom to talk.
Margoth had an invitation for us – to her wedding in eight days. She asked if we could come and we immediately said yes. I wanted to say, "We'll be there with bells on," but didn't know how to translate that into Spanish. We were very happy for her. One of the first questions I asked (and probably an embarrassing one) was whether her novio (husband to be) was a good man. Margoth is a sweet girl and I would hate to see her marry a dominating man. (Of course, my question was not likely to change the course of events at this point. Still, I wanted her to know that I thought she deserved a good man.) Margoth said yes and that her intended had a brother with a disability, "como Usted" (like you).
Inti, the sobrino, didn’t shy away from me when I said hola, but it was not long before he left the room. We asked what Verónica, Margoth's sister and Inti's mother, was doing now and Margoth said that she was working in another hotel. (We had also become friends with Verónica when she worked at the Hacienda Ally Micuy.) Margoth was not working at the moment, but getting ready for her boda (wedding).
The night before, I was working on the blog and ran across a picture of Margoth, Verónica, and Rosa. I wondered what they were doing now. Funny how I found out about Margoth and Verónica the very next day!
Sábado, 21 de abril, 2012
Margoth and Mamá Waiting
Jorgé and Margoth
This was the day of Margoth's wedding. I hadn't noticed it when she came to invite us last week (because of her loose-fitting clothes), but she was seven or eight months pregnant. That's often the case here. Isabel tells us that the sex education is not very good here and also comes in the later school years, after the kids really need to know about it. I've seen more than one couple get married after they got pregnant and before the baby came. I asked Isabel if she thought that Margoth had gotten married so her baby wouldn't be born "outside" the Catholic church and she said yes. That's not the best reason to get married, of course, but we sincerely hope that Margoth has a good marriage. Margoth has always been vivacious, eager to learn, and adventurous.
Margoth got married in the biggest church in Otavalo. We were a little late getting there, but it was okay. They were just setting up when we went in. I think there was a wedding before and a wedding afterward. We went ahead and sat in the front row and had a great view. Verónica and her child were right behind us.
After mass, we drove to the parents' house of Margoth's new husband, Jorgé, for the reception. Margoth will live there. However, it's only about a block from her family's home, so the change shouldn't be too great, at least in terms of the people she sees on a daily basis.
When we got to the reception, the white wedding tent was way off in the distance, almost out of sight, and we had to cross some pretty rough (for me) terrain. Marilyn (with Margoth's mother) got some help, though, and we made it back there okay.
They sat us right near the bridal table, so once again we had a great view of all that went on. When Margoth delivered the invitation eight or nine days ago, she told us that Jorgé had a disabled brother. She said he was like me, but he really has arthrogryposis, not cerebral palsy. Marilyn asked Margoth and Jorgé if she could bring him over to talk to me. They said yes. So Marilyn then asked the younger brother if he would like to meet me. He said yes also, but somewhat reluctantly.
His name is Richard (pronounced Ree-shar) and he is twelve years old. He goes to school and his favorite subject is natural sciences. Marilyn and Isabel did most of the talking and Marilyn told him a lot about me. He's pretty twisted up and can't use his hands or feet, but he told us he writes using a pencil his mouth. I could see the intelligence in his eyes. There were two younger girl cousins hanging about him and it looked like they took pretty good care of him. After we talked for a while, Marilyn took Richard back over to where he had been originally sitting and invited Margoth and Jorgé to bring him for a visit sometime so I could show him how I did things. A few minutes later, I noticed he was gone. Maybe he was afraid of being kidnapped again. Like most indigenous people, he was pretty shy around strangers.
Marilyn and I both noticed a man, probably a relative, who appeared to also have arthrogryposis and figured that it must be hereditary (we later learned that it's congenital, which can include other causes besides hereditary genetics). We hoped Margoth's children would be okay.
As at the indigenous wedding we attended in Tocagón (see Tocagón Wedding), people brought their gifts to the wedding couple during the first part of the reception. There was also a mixture of corn, beans, potatoes, etc. on a large cloth (like a tablecloth) on the ground near the wedding couple and guarded from the dogs by two women. The corners were folded over the food to keep it warm and to keep the flies off. Plastic "go bags" were passed out to groups of people. The wedding party was served plates of this food. The rest of us had our "go bags" filled with it according to the number in our group. We all ate with our hands. There would be more food later, but I suppose this was a communal meal of some significance.
Then the music started. The giant speakers were on either side of the tent, so there was no escape. At first, it was at a nice level. Soon, however, the decibel level started to reach the stratosphere and we had to say our goodbyes. People in countries south of the U. S. border enjoy their music LOUD. The reception would continue into the wee hours of the morning and start up again the next day.
Interestingly, no one helped us on the way out, as they had on the way in. (Margoth's mother had conscripted two "volunteers" when we had arrived, but was busy when we left.) Isabel and Marilyn had to get me over the precarious path by themselves. The others may have been too busy enjoying the reception or, unbeknownst to us, we may have impolitely "skipped" at a very critical moment.
Yes, here in Mexico, sometimes their children are the ring-bearers and the little girl that holds the train....I love the indigenous dresses that the women wear...they are so beautiful! --Lisa
I love the indigenous clothing, too, especially the blouses. --Glenn
It's the day after Easter, a day we know that the Lord is "still risen". I have on my dresser my nativity scene from Christmas, because I like it and it reminds me of who I belong to. It also reminds me of the love and care I am to give to others. I place the baby Jesus so both Joseph and Mary can look at the child. He gets moved around by me often as I place him in different positions. But hopefully, I don't worship a baby Jesus, I want to believe in a risen Lord who cares about me and helps care for me.
During Lent this year, 40 different parishioners from our Austin church wrote a short devotional with the theme of "justice" in today's world. The devotionals suggested that many things need fixing in our world today. I'd like to share with you some things that Tim Tutt, our minister in Austin, wrote to the congregation on Easter afternoon:
For 40 days you have been reading about injustice in our world and ideas for justice.
Today is Easter and even our cracked old earth seems to sing out: Christ is Risen!
Yes, there are grieving families whose loved ones are in prison. You've read about that as part of this series. But someone is praying for those families, and volunteers are caring for them. That is Resurrection. That is hope. Christ is Risen!
Yes, schools are underfunded and teachers' pay is low. But teachers, volunteers, administrators, and staff love and laugh with kids each day. That is Good News! Christ is Risen!
Yes, hunger stalks the earth like a brute. But others are fasting and donating their saved money to buy food. CROP Walkers marched and sang. Hallelujah! Christ is Risen.
Yes, systems of inequality force people to take out loans that bury them in debt. But groups like our church are at work creating alternative lending programs. That is New Life. Christ is Risen!
For forty days we have pondered life's pains. But God's promises shine like the new day. Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed!
Ideas for Justice: The next time you hear someone complain, think to yourself (or say out loud), "Maybe so, but Christ is Risen." Laugh and live with justice.
Prayer: God of Life and New Life, sing us the Easter song again: Christ is Risen.
Remind us, O God, that all is not lost. Life abounds. May we be Easter people, people of Justice and Truth and Hope. Amen!
I like this.
It's been raining in Otavalo a lot, like, every day. Sometimes we have 5 minutes of sun; other times, we have several hours of sun. It can be dreary at this time of year. But, we had a visitor Friday and Saturday. Lisa Renz, born in the U.S. but continuing to live in Mexico for the last 44 years, came to visit Victor and then spent a night with us. We got to show her around our world famous Mercado where she did some "power shopping" for a morning. What fun it is to have a new visitor to get to know. Although retired now, she was a missionary for many years. In her late 60's, she is so full of energy and love for others. She is living and sharing an "Easter" life.
I sometimes think that around here, life is evident everywhere. There are people walking on the streets, the highways, the hillsides. Many folks don't own cars, so they walk to where they are going, or to the nearest bus stop. I see pigs and sheep and cows and chickens and dogs and cats in the neighborhoods and in the countryside. It's hard to make a living, but folks are quite creative. Wherever there is a good amount of foot traffic, one can find vendors of grapes or lemons, beans or corn, sugar cane or bread, homemade cheese or barbecued chicken. Otavalo is just full of life. It may not be an easy life, but come Sunday in the churches you'll find plenty of celebrating, another "Easter" sign.
Viernes, 13 de abril, 2012
Although I started this the Monday after Easter, I find myself still working on it days later. This week, I began teaching in a new "parish" that includes 13 pre-schools. I had been so excited to teach in these new schools. The first day, unfamiliar faces wondered what this gringa was bringing. By the end of the class, they had smiles of interest.
The head administrator insists that all of the different pre-schools have some English (sounds like a fair plan to me), not just a few. Each will get one 30 minute session a week for 8 weeks. It's only an introduction, but with the teachers' reinforcement when I am not there, it should make a little difference in their future. Maybe my presence will bring hope to the children's teachers and parents that life will be good for the children in the future. This could be a pretty far fetched outcome on my part, but I wish an "Easter" life for those lives I touch.
When we moved out of the hotel last year, I was a little sad because I figured the opportunity to meet different and interesting people would be diminished. Happily, Lisa Renz is only the latest in what seems to be a continuous flow of unique people who have enriched our lives. I guess we're in the right spot at the right time in our lives.
Lisa Renz was at the monthly FEDICE meeting on Thursday. We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her because she has lived such an interesting life. She moved to Mexico with her husband 44 years ago to work as a missionary, and stayed. Together, they produced Christian literature. They lived among the poorest of the poor near Cuernavaca. They didn’t have electricity for the first nine months. They didn’t have water for the first nine years. Lisa still doesn’t have sewage. Her husband passed away and she continued to produce the Christian literature. About five years ago, she married a Mexican man, but he passed away about six months ago.
Lisa was here at Victor's request. She had already conducted a workshop to demonstrate to some indigenous groups in Cotopaxi Province how to make creams that her second husband had helped her to develop. Next, she was going to conduct a workshop at Tocagón (our neck of the woods) on how to develop a program to teach Sunday School to children.
At lunch, she told us that she lives in a “parachute” community in the town of Zapata, near Cuernavaca in Mexico. She explained it as a piece of land a group of people sort of squatted. No one owns their land. There are over 5,000 people there now, so she doesn’t think they’ll be kicked off. When we asked if she owned her house, she said, “Only if I can pick it up and take it with me.”
The first few years they lived there, Lisa and her husband had a VW bus. So they acted as the community’s ambulance. These days, there’s a lot of violence in her community, especially drug violence. She says the people in Cuernavaca are afraid to come to Zapata, and the people of Zapata are afraid to come to her colonia or barrio (neighborhood). But it doesn’t seem to bother her. One of her sons lives in front of her. Her other three children are scattered from Chile to Colorado. In fact, she was on her way to Chile to visit her daughter who, with her husband, also works as a missionary.
Marilyn went to Lisa's workshop at Tocagón yesterday (Good Friday). The plan was for us to host her in our house last night. We always enjoy hosting people. I stayed home because the extended family was over making the traditional fanesca (see Good Friday Equals Thanksgiving). Marilyn and Lisa got home just as we were finishing the meal. Led by Cesar, we started pounding the table rhythmically and chanting, “Marilyn! Marilyn! Marilyn!” as soon as she opened the door. That put a huge smile on Marilyn's face and no doubt put Lisa on notice that this was an interesting family in its own right.
Lisa and Marilyn enjoyed a bowl of fanesca while the rest of us continued to sit at the table and talk to them. As one can imagine, Lisa speaks Spanish pretty fluently, having lived in Mexico for 44 years. She said she learned because she loved to talk.
Lisa had a somewhat dark sense of humor, which we liked. For instance, at breakfast this morning she told us that the day after her mother’s second leg had to be amputated due to diabetes, a nurse asked Lisa how tall her mother was. Lisa really didn't know. What popped out of her mouth was, “Oh, about 20 centimeters less than yesterday.” She said the nurse was not amused.
We got to show her around the Mercado Plaza de Ponchos, where she did what Marilyn called power shopping, buying things mostly for other people. Then we took her to Mercado 24 de Mayo, so she could see where people from the area did their ordinary shopping. We also went to 24 de Mayo because we wanted to show her babacos (fruits, which we found) and taxos (also fruits, which we didn’t find).
Too soon, it was time for Victor to drive back from Ibarra and take Lisa to Quito so she could have a day of rest before continuing on to see her daughter in Chile. We really enjoyed getting to know a little about her and her committed as well as interesting life. I think of myself and Marilyn as adventurous spirits but, when I meet someone like Lisa, all I can do is say, "Wow!"
Today is the beginning of a month-long visit to the U.S. We’ve been trying to go back about three times a year. The idea is to assure family and friends that we haven’t forgotten about them. Some of our friends and relatives probably see us more now that we’re in Ecuador than they did when we were in Texas because we make more of an effort to see them every time we get to the States. Who knows? Maybe we're becoming pests.
Pilar and Galo
Pilar, Galo, and Margola came over before we had a chance to eat desayuno (breakfast). Margola is Isabel's sister-in-law, Pilar is Margola's daughter, and Galo is Pilar's husband. Pilar and Galo wanted to make some last-minute specifications about the tent they asked us to get for them while we’re in the U.S. Of course, they would reimburse us when we delivered the goods.
Margola also asked us to get some pills for her arthritis. She wanted both a pain medication like Aleve or Motrin and she asked for glucosamine/chondroitin as well. She didn’t know exactly which pain med she wanted, so we figured it was best to try not to get anything that might have side effects.
Of course, there are always last minute errands to run. Marilyn took Canela in for her annual vaccinations. It turned out that she (Canela, not Marilyn) doesn’t need a rabies vaccination until next year, so she only got two shots. However, the vet still had to drug her to give her the shots. Canela is not docile when it comes to being stuck, even if it is only twice instead of three times. When they came home, Canela didn’t seem any the worse for wear.
Yolanda came over for almuerzo (lunch). The family loves to say goodbye to us and get reassurances that we'll be back soon.
We left immediately after eating, primarily because we wanted to beat most of the traffic we had seen yesterday evening returning from trips during the carnaval holiday. We hadn’t needed to worry, however, because we got to Quito as fast as normal. Isabel didn’t cry when we left this time, at least not that I saw, which meant that Old Softy (me) didn’t cry either.
When we reached Blanca and Luis’s house, Blanca greeted us in her wheelchair. She had had surgery on both rodillas (knees) on Thursday because of old sports-related injuries. It mystified us as to why they would do both knees at once until we learned that one knee was minor surgery and the other was more involved. That kind of made sense - it cut the rehabilitation time in about half because a second surgery wouldn't be needed. We remembered to bring our ramps in case they were of help to Luis in getting Blanca up and down the four steps to their condominium. That was a very small thing we could do to help them. They help us out tremendously by inviting us to spend the night every time we go to or come back from the U.S.
Blanca and us at the Pajama Party
After dinner, which was very good, we all went to bed. Luis, Marilyn, and I would have to get up at 4:00 am to get to the airport in time for our flight. Blanca could stay in bed and snicker at us for having to get up so early. There was already a mattress in the living room because Blanca wasn’t able to climb the stairs. Luis and Marilyn brought another mattress downstairs for us to sleep upon. It wasn't our normal sleeping arrangement. We usually sleep downstairs and they sleep in their upstairs bedroom. This time we all slept in the living room, turning our heads when someone else needed privacy.
The two mattresses made their living room almost wall-to-wall bed. It's been a long time since either of us got to go to a pajama party. But we talked into the night, just as one is supposed to do at Fiestas de Píjamas.