Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hermano Ignacio

Hermano Ignacio comes in smiling every Friday.

He shakes my hand, sets down his backpack, and excuses himself to move on to his next tasks. Three more smiling faces then either join me for the afternoon, lie down to rest after their long trip, or go out again with their father. Giselle, eleven, is all smiles. Her beautiful smile all but covers her thin face. Belen, almost nine, is a box of giggles. Jacob, the seven-year-old, doesn’t speak much to me, but always smiles a shy smile.

They come every weekend. The children quietly play at the mission house while Hermano Ignacio studies and attends classes.

We all have something in common: Spanish is not our first language. On any given weekend you can hear three languages being spoken in our main room: Spanish, English, and their language, Guaraní.

Hermano Ignacio is an incredible example of Biblical willingness. Who will go? Who will serve? Here I am. Send me. He comes to town for classes on the weekends. He goes back to his village to teach during the week. He lives alone with his three oldest kids for now, but “my wife is coming home soon with the younger three,” he tells me as his face lights up.

Called to pastor a church supported by a group of other churches, he fed his family off their support. When the support grew scant and often didn’t come at all, he needed to find other ways to feed his family. He and his wife ground up crops for three years to pay the bills. Someone looking for a bilingual teacher appeared, so he began a new work. Teaching during the week, learning on the weekends; no, this life is not easy.

The trip to Entre Rios is long. A minivan takes them from their village Tentawazu to Timboy, where they can catch a bus for a two-hour ride to Entre Rios. However, the minivan doesn’t always come when you need it. Today the kids walked from their home to Timboy, a five hour walk in the heat of the day, before catching the bus to Entre Rios. Every hour they stopped to rest and talk about Jesus. They came in tired, but still smiling. Raquel, the woman in charge of many affairs here, had a surprise waiting for the kids when they came today. Three boxes from Samaritan’s Purse brought more joy than I have yet seen on their faces. They happily show off their new treasures and then carefully pack them away again so as to guard them on the trip home. There may not be money for the trip home. There may not be money for their trip next weekend. They eat, but they don’t eat much. There is probably never enough money to properly treat Giselle’s epilepsy. Yet today an unexpected box of gifts awaits each one. Oh, if I could only share this moment with the people who sent these boxes.

A week passes, and Hermano Ignacio once again greets me with a Friday smile. This weekend he is weary but eager to talk. We sit down to have some Guaraní lessons, which I treasure. He tells me of his wife and three younger children, whom he expects to arrive on Sunday.

Sunday comes and the hours pass. His wife and children do not come. 8:00. 9:00. 10:00. I take the kids to Sunday School and we sing, dance, and share banana cake. 11:00. 12:00. They still don’t come. Hermano Ignacio gets ahold of the bus company, and finds out they are stuck three hours away. Relief that they are all right. Disappointment that the wait continues.

2:30 arrives and so do they. Hermano Ignacio eagerly introduces me to his wife, and the six kids joyfully run around laughing and screaming in delight. The late arrival means they missed the bus home, and they won’t be walking this time. They wait until tomorrow’s bus, which gives me more time to experience the family’s joy and have a photo shoot. I want to learn from them. They have so much joy, passion, potential, eagerness, and love. I want to share with them. They lack even the basics at times, and I have so much. I am humbled to share my weekends with them.

Ignacio, Mamí, Giselle, Belen, Jacob, Ariel, Joas, y Amos, les voy a extrañar mucho. Gracias por todo. Surupai. Dios les bendiga.


Anonymous said...

Hey Bethany. I've just spent the last half hour reading up on your recent experiences.

Have you ever thought about writing a devotional/inspirational book about your experiences? Really. Seriously. You're a wonderful writer, you paint such vivid pictures, and I'm inspired by what you have to say. (I also noticed on your Crossfire web notes)


Love, and God Bless,
Meghan Adney

Cassie said...

surupai. guarani?