28 Jul 2012 1 Comment
Dinner’s been served, and I’m not in the kitchen anymore. I don’t know why, actually. Usually, after serving the food, I stay behind the long, white tile counter. I lean my elbows on the high counter and watch the meal unfold.
But not right now. Now I’m just outside of the reach of the countertop, leaning against the pale green wall of the dining room. I’m still watching, still listening, I’m just not in the kitchen.
Two tables over, directly across from me, she sits silently. She dutifully eats her food, wordlessly scraping arroz con leche out of the beige dish in front of her. I watch her, and I’m not the only one, but she avoids my gaze, her dark eyes fixed vacantly on the bowl.
The scraping of metal spoons on hard plastic gradually diminishes, and the rush and murmur of conversation begins to grow. Dinner is done, but we’re still here in the dining room. Still standing, still sitting, still here.
Suddenly, a voice to my right calls our attention. Hermana Tere steps out from behind the counter, moves into the open space between the sliding door and the five long tables. She begins talking, but my eyes remain riveted on the girl across from me.
Hermana Tere continues. She’s talking about the same girl I watch. Tells the littles ones that the girl’s received some bad news, that she’s hurting, she’s sad. My eyes flick briefly to Hermana Tere, then back to the girl. Head down, tears glisten in a wet path down her dark cheeks. I can’t see her eyes, but I know they are red; I saw them this morning.
Hermana Tere’s words are the only sound heard in the kitchen. That and the soft sniff of a girl who’s cried much that day. In front of the room, Hermana Tere reminds us what we are. We are a family. We are a support. We love each other and encourage each other. Hurt for each other and pray for each other.
Soon, she’s done talking, and slowly, the dining room begins to move. First one, then another, then a whole table, stands up to make their way over to the girl. The room is filled with the scraping sound of chairs being pushed back across tiled floor.
Little ones stand on tiptoe to wrap their arms around her neck, and older ones, her siblings and friends, lean down to where she is seated. Hug her. Whisper words of encouragement. Tell her they love her. Build her up. Wrap her even tighter in the blanket of God’s love and sovereignty.
A line forms, and I’m not leaning against the wall anymore, I’m in line. Beki’s in front of me, and ten more are in front of her, with that many and more behind us.
After my turn, my turn to show love, support, family, I slide into the empty seat next to her. Hermano Manuel’s speaking now, the kitchen once again hushed to stillness. He speaks, then Rubí joins him in front of the gathered group, the gathered family. We’re going to sing a hymn, he explains. God Doesn’t Make Mistakes, it’s called. You all know it, right?
And we sing. Next to me, she sits, eyes lifted now. Watching. Every so often, a blink sends tears overflowing over lids and other wet path is traced down her cheeks.
Blink, drip, slide.
Tear. Cry. Sing.
God Doesn’t Make Mistakes.
10 Jul 2012 Leave a Comment
Stay where you are.
Be where you are.
Because this is what matters.
This right now, standing in the kitchen, side by side at the double sink, one washing while the other dries.
There’s a heap of dirty dishes behind you, still to be washed. And the dish water dripping out of the bottom of the sink is soaking through your shoes.
But don’t leave.
Because this right now, this mundane, this normal, is what counts.
The hush and lull of a conversation, swaying back and forth between the two of you as you both bend over the sink, that’s when friendship is built.
Don’t rush. Don’t run. Don’t get distracted. Stay for a while.
Much later, it’s time to cook dinner. Three or four others are in and out of the kitchen, while you stand at the stove, periodically flipping thick banana slices that splatter and hiss in the oil when they land.
She mentions the lasagna that she ate at your house more than two years ago again, and you can’t help tease her about it. And suddenly you’re both doubled over laughing, while the bananas sizzle away.
It really doesn’t matter where you are, what you’re doing just then. Pause. Stay. Be.
Because that’s what really matters.
09 Jul 2012 4 Comments
• I started English classes today. Teaching, not taking, although I could probably use a couple of classes in this crazy language. One time, while I was living here last winter, after writing a late-night, rather incoherent blog post, Stevy informed me that I was beginning to write as if English were indeed my second language. This was both hilarious and sadly, rather true.
• No, but for real. I spent three hours this morning teaching English to assorted groups at the Casa Hogar. I, and I say this fully aware of the repercussions it may carry, spent most of this time wishing desperately that I actually payed attention when my mother taught English here. Beki tells me that the woman brought in real sugar for them all to sample when she covered baking items. If only I could bring in real jungle animals…
• There was a cockroach in the room that Ana and I share this morning. Now, sitting alone in the dining room, I’m mentally composing lists of all the ways a roach could approach me.
• It’s a long list.
• My day at the Casa Hogar ended with sitting in Cuarto Uno with Ana, Karen, and the oldest girls. We told stories and retold stories and teased each other and laughed until it was 11pm, and suddenly time to go.
• Occasionally, it occurs to me to wonder if I was supposed to be Mexican.
• But then I’d have to deal with more cockroaches.
• I assigned each English class homework and spent half my afternoon sitting on beds doing the very homework I had assigned, while my littlest students looked on in interest.
• Little Rosa asked me again today if I spoke English. The English class having done little to convince her, she devised the hardest test as seven-year-old could to test my fluency: say all the vowels in English.
• To her utter amazement, I passed the test with flying colors.
• I was recruited to teach two classes in this program of activities that Hermana Tere has devised: English, and swimming. Swim class starts on Wednesday, with the oldest girls, and I must say, I’m as interested to see how it unfolds as they are. I’ll be sure to report back after Wednesday.
• I’m Facebook chatting with Carly about simple, and the plausibility of unplugging completely from the cell phone era, and the irony of blogging while fb chatting while my iPhone charges next to me is very nearly too much to bear.
• So, I think I’ll go to bed. Today was English class and kitchen work and friend time, who knows what tomorrow will bring.
21 Jun 2012 1 Comment
It’s been two long, full, wonderful days with the cousins.
We visited the Hancock Observatory, pacing around 360 degrees of bright Chicago landscape.
We walked down Michigan Avenue, hiking past stores and shops in the sweltering heat.
We sat in the grass at Millenium Park, listening to a jazz band perform and watching the people of Chicago wander past. We took pictures in the Bean, splashed around the spitting fountains, and then made our way back to the purple line.
We sat in a circle on the living room floor, concentration and competitiveness mixing with shouts of laughter as we played round after round of KEMPS, topping our evening off with a little Catchphrase.
We ate lunch at Great Harvest, nibbling on free bread samples while we waited for our delicious, fresh sandwiches.
We visited Dad’s work, traipsing up and down white tiled halls, stepping into labs and listening intently as Dad explained the function of different microscopes, and what exactly a polymer is.
We sat on the bleachers at the pool and watched Stevy swim, working to keep an eye on the correct athlete amidst lanes full of swimmers.
We had deep dish pizza, digging into juicy slices heaped with tomatoes, pepperoni, and vegetables.
We watched movies, nestled into couches while Nemo, Ironman, and other films unfolded on the big screen in front of us.
We played, we chilled, we laughed, we talked.
It’s been two days with the cousins, and we’re having a wonderful time.
25 May 2012 Leave a Comment
I love the building that I’ve grown up in.
I Love that it’s a thin, blurry line that separates neighbors from friends, friends from family.
I love that in this little community, we work together to help, to have fun, to grow.
I love that front doors are open and voices are heard up and down the stairway frequently.
I love that we play together, laugh together, cry together.
I love dinner out with the two sweet ones in this picture, with chatting and laughing and eating and sharing.
I love neighbors sitting around the table, singing Happy Birthday to a young one we’ve all come to love dearly.
I love the building I’ve grown up in, but more than that, I love the people who make it home.
15 Apr 2012 1 Comment
Self check-out or normal checkout?
I think it’s faster to do it ourselves.
Here, scan the berries.
Wait, give me a second, let me put the discount card code in.
Oh, nevermind. I don’t have the discount card and I don’t know the number.
Did you scan the strawberries?
I can’t get it to scan the grapes- can you help me?
Sure. We can just enter it in manually.
This one, they’re seedless.
Okay. Is that all of it?
Yeah, that’s it. We’re good.
Oh, shoot. I don’t have my credit card. Do you have any money?
No, I just brought my keys. You don’t have any cash?
Not enough for all this fruit.
Huh. Yeah, I don’t have anything. I’m sorry.
Well, it’s okay. We don’t need it. We have enough food, right?
Chips and burgers and coleslaw- yeah, that should be fine.
Okay, I’m just going to cancel the order. I guess we need to wait for someone to come void it.
Do you ladies need any help?
No, thank you. We’re just waiting for someone to come cancel our order.
I can pay for it.
No, really. You don’t have to! Thank you!
It’s fine, I will. How much is it?
$30. Are you sure, sir?
Yes, it’s good to do something nice for someone else.
Okay, well, thank you so much!
You’re welcome, have a good day!
Do you have the bags?
Yeah, can you grab the one with the blueberries?
Yep, got it. That was crazy! He was an angel!
A fruit-buying angel. I can’t wait to tell the girls on the floor.
No, really; look! He’s not anywhere in this parking lot. He completely disappeared. An angel!
18 Feb 2012 Leave a Comment
It’s Saturday night and I’m at home for the night. I blinked and another week passed. A busy week, but one of the less stressful weeks I’ve had this semester. It was nice, really.
So here’s a three-year-old Glendy drinking yogurt.
11 Feb 2012 1 Comment
God provides for me all the time. He’s always got His eye and hand on me, and always on you; He’s always working to care for us, protect us, provide for us, give to us, love us.
And I’m only now beginning to realize how much He really does. How involved He is in my life, my heart, my days. My eyes are beginning to open to His provision, and suddenly, I’m seeing it everywhere.
Friday night spent in a friend’s room, sitting on the bed side by side, computers perched on laps. Fingers typing away studiously, only to be interrupted every few minutes by a story, a question, a thought to share. Projects done, we perused Pinterest and Facebook, flipping through pictures and ideas. Laughter and conversation rose and fell in the room as girls came in and out, momentarily infusing the cozy room with excitement and chatter.
Saturday morning and I can’t decide if I’m joining the girls on an outing to a local, and quite popular, pancake house. One “you should come!” is all it takes to get me out of from under my comforter and changing into a sweatshirt and jeans.
The restaurant is warm and bright, the pancakes quite yummy, and the conversation around the table fun and easy, gentle words and soft laughter mingling with the humming din of a full restaurant.
We troupe back to school, skip-stepping through the snow, boots crunching into the crispy heaps of frozen stuff. It’s cold outside, and we have homework to do, and things to accomplish, but it doesn’t feels like it.
As we push through the doors under the arch and step back onto campus, life feels calm, safe, and right; as if everything is just as it should be. Founder’s Week left me, left us all, full of thoughts and questions and the seeds of growth, but it also left us exhausted.
God knew that, and He provided. Provided time with friends. Time to unwind, to decompress. Time so warm, so easy, so comfortable, that I couldn’t help but feel refreshed.
Refreshed, and so blessed.
06 Feb 2012 Leave a Comment
I didn’t know what it meant, until sometime early on in my 2011 stint living with Manuel and Tere. We were sitting around the little brown dining table, eating a late lunch, when Hermano Manuel used the word in a sentence.
I looked up. I had heard the word before, and was unsure what it meant. I listened intently to the conversation, my eyes flicking back and forth across the table as the conversation bounced from person to person. I waited for some clue as to what the mystery word meant.
After a moment or two, the conversation swung over to me, as someone brought up the notable similarity between my own last name and this mysterious work.
I’ve heard it before, but I don’t know what it means. I admitted.
This confession was met with general smiles around the table. Really? You don’t know? They chuckled. I waited for someone to fill me in.
It means beautiful, pretty. Hermano Manuel explained, and then illustrated his explanation with our pastor’s habit of affectionately referring to the pastor’s wife as chula.
Ah. I get it.
Which is why it made me smile tonight, when I left the new Mexican restaurant down the street, and a young employee called out, “adios, chula!” as I pushed through the door.