Well, I dusted off those steel-toed boots and headed back to Ecuador.
I know, I know, I haven't written a word since the day I said good-bye to Nanny. I just didn't. I can't tell you how often I sat in front of the computer looking at that great picture of the two of us together, how many times I read over and over the words I'd written, feeling all the love and hope and despair and gratitude that was wrapped up in them, thinking, "Wow I really would like to write down what happened today"... but I just couldn't get away from that goodbye page.
That is, until now. My friend Deb suggested I just write down that I was having trouble writing stuff down. Genius, that girl. Pure genius.
What WASN'T genius was me getting eyelash extensions at the start of a trip to Ecuador. You can't cry for 7 days, they said. Don't get them wet, they said...AS they were applying extensions to the second eye. After you've had one eye Eva Gabor-ed, you can't very well stop the process, so I decided I was just not going to cry.
BAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! Hello, have we met? I cry at movies; I cry reading books; I cry every time Carrie Underwood puts out a new song; I'm a mess at every church service; I lose it when my daughter leaves to go to her home 6 minutes down the road; tears spring to my eyes when someone puts away the dishes...you get the picture.
So my next genius idea was to put away my glasses. If I can't see stuff, I can't cry about it, right? I'll just enjoy the journey, build the house, pack the bags and backpacks for the children and prison inmates, and make no eye contact. I can't see anyone's eyes without my glasses anyway, right?
Well I really made out pretty well. Surprised myself. People kept looking over at me during moving moments and, although there were a few lumpy-throated close calls, I was a stone, man. Children, puppies, babies, reunions with old friends...nothin'. But, you see, I didn't have my glasses on, so I wasn't really seeing these things. Not really. Just a blurry representation of a much sharper reality. My focus was on my eyelashes. My focus was on myself.
After lunch with the group we packed into the van to go to see a friend of Carito's, a widow she knows who needed support. As we traveled there, Carito explained that this lady had not only lost her husband, but that her 31 year old son had died of a heart attack soon after that. And that she was taking care of her sick mother. We were going over to encourage her and to give her some groceries to help with the financial burden of taking care of her home and her mama with the little she was able to bring in as a seamstress.
I still didn't have my glasses on.
Carito introduced us all, we hugged and greeted her and then listened without understanding as Carito spoke with her in Spanish. They both conversed a bit and cried with each other and then Carito asked if any of us had anything to say to her. We didn't know what to say. My heart pounded as I thought of Isaiah 41 verse 10, thinking, "I could tell her those words of comfort". They had sprung immediately to mind and Pastor Les had helped us all memorize the verse word for word so I knew WHAT to say. But I didn't say anything. Because I wasn't really involved. I wasn't listening with understanding and I wasn't looking to see.
But just as we were leaving I stopped to say goodbye to the lady's mother, who was sitting by the front door, just watching the whole event, with what seemed like a vague disinterest. And as I leaned in to kiss her and say one of the few phrases I've learned for farewell, something happened. My eyes were suddenly locked with hers. And I knew immediately that this lady had dementia.Well. That's my gig. I face that disease every day. And as we looked at each other I knew she deserved more than an unseeing, un-hearing, un-involved greeting from a stranger. I knelt down and talked to her. Tatiana, my friend and our awesome translator confirmed that this dear lady has Alzheimer's disease, and then Tatiana helped me say a few words to her. I held the mama's face in my hands and smiled into her eyes and matched the tone of her voice and let her know I loved her. I lingered a moment more, listening to her little voice, then kissed her and went out to the van. I dug through my backpack...
...and I put my glasses on.
As the tears started to roll down my cheeks I thanked God for such an obvious lesson. And for such clear vision.
I've cried a few more times in the 30 hours that have passed since that moment. Just a few, ha ha.
The eyelashes are fine. They're still hanging on.
But my eyes? My EYES are OPEN and my eyes are AWESOME!
"Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." ~Isaiah 41:10
"Those who have eyes that see what God sees find was to help the helpless"~Julie Ackerman Link
Now, if you want to hear what's actually going on in Ecuador, my pal Lisa has been writing about it here:
Love you all!!!