Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Washington's Car

He left early, to deliver food baskets for the families that needed it, and to get the children from the dump ready for the bus that was coming to take them to my wedding. There are few people that I admire in this world as much as Washington and his wife Andrea. They started Massa Humana, the project with their church to work with the families at the dump—Living Stones just works with them—they are the backbone of that ministry.
Washington is a true example of what it means to live the Christian life—ministry just happens to him. We have pick up the soup to take to the dump—now we stop and pray, share, encourage, and sometimes even sing with the ladies who cook in the kitchen. He knows each one by name. He has saved the lives of different people from the dump community, driving out there in the middle of the night to take them to the hospital because the ambulance wouldn’t go.
He left the city, following the road that leads to the dump and saw a motorcycle coming towards him. It turned sideways suddenly, tipping over. He stopped, and got ready to jump out to try and help when he saw two men running towards him, one with a gun. They told him to get out of the car. “He looks like police!” One man said to the other, “I will kill him.” He told Washington to stand up slowly and turn around and pressed the barrel hard against the back of his head.
The other man grabbed Washington’s wallet and flipped through for his license, “No, He isn’t a cop.” Washington felt the gun loosen. “Start walking,” The man said, “Don’t turn around.” Shaken, Washington started walking back to the city, with nothing. Then he started running. He went to the police station and reported everything stolen—even the food baskets for the families. He was still able to get all the children together and on the bus for my wedding—and get there, dressed, only a little late.

He and his wife hugged me. They said nothing, and I went to my honeymoon not knowing about the dangers that had happened. They didn’t want anything to take away from my special moment. The police located the car a couple days later, and chased away the robbers, leaving a bullet hole through one side of the car. Worse for wear, but still working, Washington got his car back and gave me a big hug. Please pray for Washington, his family, and this ministry at the dump.  

Making Special

She spilled beans and orange soda down the front of her white flower girl dress. I took her into the kitchen and rinsed her down the best I could and has someone help her change back into her clothes. In that moment, I remembered she’d never had something special like this before.
She was quiet and still like an ice princess. I’ve known her since before she could talk, peeking out from behind her mother while her sisters ran to hug me and join in the fun at the Living Stones program. Josefa, number 6 of 8 girls. “Why do you like her so much?” My friend asked, “Just wait until you meet her and you will know.” I responded, “Some of the kids just attach themselves to your soul in a way that surprises you both.”
She has changed. Last month, she contracted some kind of parasite from the water. They live at the bottom of the hill, next to the polluted lake where all the sewer run-off meets. She spends her days wearing torn panties and tearing down the road to go swimming at all hours, and then home again to the simple mud floor where the same water is used for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. 
Josefa had to spend two weeks in the hospital. Her mother, taking care of seven other girls. Her father working. A family friend stayed with her as she could, but she was alone. She wears her six years a little heavier now.

I giggled at her crush on Caid. All flower girls should blush at the groom. Her mom told me that she would stare at the picture of us for hours. She and her sisters came stomping down the hall while I was getting my hair done for the wedding. In the room, she glanced longingly at the makeup as we put on her dress, until we finally dolled her up as well.

It was a long wait. In Brazil, the bride is normally an hour late. Two hours late is not uncommon. But I am not a Brazilian bride—I was ready ten minutes before. The children from the busses kept peeking in the windows, wanting to get a glance at me. When I shooed them away, they pointed to Josefa and said “How come she gets to be in there?” Oh life is unfair.

Josefa was a champ. She waited with me for half an hour until all of my witnesses arrived (In Brazil, you have couples as “witnesses,” who sign the marriage covenant in the place of bridesmaids and groomsman). We practiced walking, Josefa holding my veil. As we lined up to the entrance, a gasp went up from my Living Stones kids, and the girls, who had their tiaras and has just put down the flower petals—came running to help me as well.

I almost lost my veil from all the tugging of little hands. So much was happening that I didn’t even care anymore—they could all carry it. The boys were all lined up along the aisle, and the sparklers started—and smoke and sparks and fire and children and there was Caid at the end. That moment was truly the most magical of my life—to date.

I didn’t see Josefa again until there was orange soda dribbling down her dress. And I gave her a big hug and am so glad she could be a part of my special day—no--she is part of what made my day special. To all my kids--I love you so much!

You Can...You are Married now

He says I am short. At 5’3’’, I am one inch under the USA average for women. To me, this makes me just a little under average, not short. We have agreed for him to call me petite.
It is the little joys of him sweeping the floor while I do the dishes. Cheering when fixing the oven. High fiving it when the toilet finally flushes. Rolling over in bed and finding someone there. Having an arm wrap around you in the dark. The honeymoon was really nice. We slept alot, and didn’t go out and do anything. Sex is exhausting.
He shakes his head and mumbles “Type A” under his breath again. I like getting things done. Before our honeymoon, the longest I’d been able to last at the beach (without internet, without doing work) was five days. The honeymoon was nine days, and I was sad to go. This marriage stuff could be really good for me.
We have started our own collection of secrets. I’ve never done that before. Growing up, I never really had secrets. All my awkward quirks were already obvious. My friends and I giggled about boys, but I was too shy to talk to them. But now I have this friend—this best friend—and we read about keeping some things secret. Sacred. Just me and him.
They all have the same look on their face as they hug me: “How was your honeymoon?” (Smirk) “It was fantastic! So relaxing and fun!” (More smirk) “Oooooh, reeeeeeally?” And I turn red not because I know they are thinking about how we had sex, but because we can’t say it for what it really is. No one ever says the S-word. Our culture is so interestingly screwed.
I am the product of either sex-overload or sex-silence. Culture and movies have created 30 years of what I thought sexuality was. A few good conversations with a few good people gave me some perspective, but most everyone else was silent.
And then a man and a woman come together and have sex for the first time, and it is like a whole pot of issues and confusion is opened. 95% of what we knew was wrong. It is so much more and so much less than what we were told.
Christianity told me to “Just wait and then it will be great.” What? I put on hold a whole part of my life—my sexuality—because I figured it was just to be ignored until it was unlocked on my wedding night. I have come face to face with a huge part of ME, who I am, that I have never met.

I’ve read every Bible verse there is about sex, I have read every popular Christian book about it—and yet, I still feel like I have no idea what God thinks about sex—and wants me to think about it—while I am actually DOING it. And in the end, this is no one’s fault but mine. And so I am getting to know myself.