Last night we headed to San Vicente to deliver a birthday party for Mama Santana. I won’t tell you her age (okay it’s less than 40 but more than 38). She has a very full life. She has 7 children and 2 grandchildren – most live with her in her tiny one room house. She works hard at a garden store – 6 days a week for 11 hours a day. Her 3 youngest children live at Manos de Amor during the weeks so they can attend school. We have grown to love this family and try to visit a couple of times a month. They welcome us in and offer us tostados with macaroni or chicken – I know this is a sacrifice for them.
Earlier in the week Laurentino had told me that his mom’s birthday was on Friday. Isabelle told me her favorite food was Shrimp Ceviche. After our car shopping stress, we really needed a party, so we picked up a cake, and some ceviche and a gift and headed to what is often called Cardboardlandia – a neighborhood composed entirely of homes made of cardboard or tarps or tin. There are a LOT of little children and puppies and chickens and everyone is friendly and laughing at us as we drive through the water-filled potholes in the new convertible. I was used to children laughing at Milly so this feels good to me.
As always, everyone was excited to see us drive up. They were especially excited to see the new car. Instantly it was filled with little children and birthday balloons. Jose and Kevin and Lupita thought it was a toy and were ready to take it for a spin.
The rest of the evening was about eating tostados and cake and playing with children. Lupita loved hanging out with Klara, not even realizing that when she was just a baby she had met Klara and Fred and that they had paid to have her water tank filled. I don’t think we understand how the smallest acts of kindness – a hug, $8 to fill a water tank, a tub of ceviche – make a monumental difference in the lives of those who live in difficult situations every day.
As we said goodbye, Mama grabbed me and with tears in her eyes said “Muchas Gracias Karen. Muchas Gracias. Te Amo.” (Thank you very much Karen, I love you). And I squeezed back and whispered “I love you too”.
This is why we are here. Car shopping and buying things for our house and figuring out how to buy insurance – those are the things that must be done in order for us to live here. But the reason we live here is so that we can touch lives that need God’s love and light. For some reason this family crossed our path 2 ½ years ago when 13 year old Ibon was about to give birth to Lupita and now they are part of our Mexican life. For that I am grateful.