Saturday, November 3, 2012
I ask if I may enter her little shack. She smiles and welcomes me. There is no floor, just mud. It's the rainy season. There are massive cracks between boards and metal serving as walls. The shacks are always dark and dismal even if the sun is brilliant. They cook over an open fire in the house. The black soot covers the ceiling and walls and surely her children's lungs. The wind blows not against but through the walls. The rusted flat metal roof leaks. I've seen women point to just above their ankles to indicate the amount of rain that may fill their house in any given storm. Chickens run in and out of the house, as does the emaciated family dog. It's hell but they take pride even in the hell-hole of a house; I see women sweeping the dirt of their abode with facsimile of a broom. And you see flowers growing in this hell. Beautiful flowers testifying that these walls may crumble but the spirit of these moms remains strong.
We talk for a while as she tells me her story and then we begin to build her a new house. She has lived in this squalor for 9 years and been on the waiting list for a new house for two of those years. Today is the day we begin and she smiles in anticipation. She is responsible for eight children and 5 grandchildren. I ask her how she provides for her family; three days a week she does the laundry for rich people, earning five dollars a day. I have no idea how they do it.
I visit a thirty something mother for whom we built a house last year. As I approach she recognizes me and comes running, her eyes full of anticipation. We hug and enjoy the reunion. She loves her new home. It's dry and it provides dependable shelter and even has a front door that she can lock. She needs to. Her husband beats her. She made me aware of this last June and before we left Honduras then I attempted to put in place a support system, but with little success.
She is proud of her new home and eagerly invites me in. Even though she is beyond grateful for her house, life remains terribly difficult in light of the abuse. She admits to me that she has had periods of wanting to kill herself, as she questions her worth and value. As she reveals her sadness I get an idea, a "nudging," what I call a "prompting," and determine to follow through with it the next day.
The next day I return to her house, interpreter by my side. We sit down and I pull out a bottle of grape juice and a small 6 inch loaf of bread. She looks confused. She has little religious history or background. She knows very little but enough to feel completely unworthy. I explain these symbols of Christ's death and that God has such a high regard for her--God himself values her so highly--that his Son died for her. I ask her of she wants to participate and we will share in this ritual together. She wants to, but her shame tries to talk her out of it. She tells me, "I've done some very bad things. . . " hinting that her history would preclude her from partaking. I assure her that it is exactly people like her and me that Christ died for. We eat a piece of the bread and drink some of the juice together, and I trust and hope that in that moment she also eats and drinks and consumes Christ's love for her.
I say goodbye, assuring her I will see her next June.
In the meantime, God, hold her in your arms and protect her from her husband's hands. Give her grace to remember the sacred moment.