I walked in the door after a long solo driving trip. The phone rang. The caller ID indicated I was receiving a call from an unknown person in North Carolina.
"Hmmm," I thought, "Whom do I know in North Carolina?"
I expected it to be someone who had gotten my number from our synod office - someone from some ELCA church out there who had a question about sister church relationships with the Salvadoran Lutheran Church. "Ugh," I thought. "I am too tired to deal with this." I picked up the phone anyway.
"Ho-la." It caught me off guard, but I recognized Estella's sing-songy greeting right away. Not North Carolina, but El Salvador! "Hola!" I chirped back, and as with one hand I navigated the process of taking off my coat, greeting the dog, taking out the dog, and feeding the dog, I carried on a lively conversation with Estella.
It was Estella's daughter's birthday. This was the purpose of the call - to take a couple of moments out of the middle of an afternoon to celebrate together a little girl who was completing her second year of life. We talked about our kids, our husbands, our churches, our communities, our Bible study groups. The visit to the doctor for the two-year-old check-up that morning had gone well. The plans for our upcoming visit in El Salvador were moving along on both fronts. Three times during the conversation, Estella said, "I love you so much. You and all the friends from our sister church. You have made such a difference in our lives - for me and for my children. May God bless you and keep you and watch over you. I pray for you every day."
This was so much better than a call from North Carolina (no offense to any North Carolinian fans out there.)
Estella made me promise to call our pastor to thank her again for baptizing Estella's daughter during our last visit in El Salvador. "Tell Pastor Jennifer that her little girl is healthy and is turning two years old today. Tell Pastor Jennifer to remember the baptism. Tell Pastor Jennifer that we give thanks and pray for her every day."
Thank you, Estella, for taking the time to call, for your love and your prayers. You have made such a difference in our lives, for me and for the brothers and sisters in your sister church. May God bless you and keep you and watch over you. We will do our best to pray for you every day.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Thursday, October 4, 2012
|The Abuela after her check-up in 2005|
We called her The Abuela -- The Grandma. This was out of respect. We met The Grandma during our first visit to the community. She came for a check-up at a small clinic which we ran inside the church. Deb, our nurse practitioner had a special rapport with The Grandma from their first meeting.
The Abuela lived at the corn-grinding house with her son and daughter-in-law. We would often visit to admire her beautiful flower and fruit garden or to find out how the molina business was going. She kept a couple of pet cats. After the earthquakes in 2001, our church helped The Abuela and her family to build a new home as part of a community housing project. A small group of us visited the home when it was completed to give a blessing. After the blessing, The Abuela asked Deb to bring her a ring the next time she came to visit.
Deb always treated The Grandma with great respect and care and offered her basic comforts for a difficult medical situation. It's difficult to talk about female problems in many cultures, even with medical personnel. This was very true in El Salvador twelve years ago and is still somewhat true today. The Grandma broke past the barriers of embarrassment and cultural silence, revealing to Deb that she had a completely prolapsed uterus. Preventing infection on an internal organ which has become external to the body is very difficult. The Grandma was a role model for other women, advocating for herself, gathering the information she needed, and caring for herself in the best way possible.
|The Abuela in 2012|
|The Abuela in 2012|