Monday, January 21, 2013

Visiting Danna in Mexico - Home Visit

Danna’s family consists of Mama, older sister (Miss Ten) and older brother (Mr 14). Miss Ten is sponsored by a Korean family, and has received a total of one letter and photo. Mr 14 was sponsored, but left the program. I get the impression that, for whatever reason, he just didn’t want to be part of it anymore. They have aunts and cousins living next door. Mama works at Casa Dias (“Day House”), a government organisation where people get support and learn skills.

When I first saw their house, I asked how many other people live with them, but it was just Mama and the three kids. I thought it was quite big for a family of four. They have electricity, bathroom, one bedroom, and dirt floor. The house has wooden foundations and an iron sheet roof. What really struck me is how this family take pride in their home despite their humble circumstances. They still had their Christmas tree and decorations up, as well as a tribute in the corner to their deceased grandmother who died – a table with a photo, candles and a Bible.

The church service did not finish until after one o’clock, so we shelved our original plans. We were going to take Danna to Tuxtla, which was a large city about 80km away, for lunch. However, whenever I visit my Compassion kids, my priority is spending as much time as I can with the family and seeing their home and environment. So someone went out and bought some lunch and we ate at Danna’s home.

We were joined for lunch by the little cousins and a couple of aunts. There was good conversation and lots of questions. I was humbled by their generosity and hospitality. They did ask what I thought of their home and neighbourhood, but they didn’t seem overly concerned, insecure or ashamed. Once again, there was a sense of contentment in what God has provided for them.

Danna’s father has not been on the scene for 8 years, since she was a baby. Mama said he left for the United States to look for a job, and never came back. An all-too-common story in these parts of the world. I asked her if she was expecting that to happen when he left, and she said “no”, so it wasn’t like they were fighting and he stormed out. I could feel a sense of loss there. This makes Mister 14 the man of the house, and my role as Danna's sponsor even more significant.   
After lunch our little tribe (7 kids, 6 adults) headed out into the neighbourhood. It seemed quiet and safe with paved roads, and Danna said enjoys living there. Our first stop was a public football stadium, complete with synthetic surface. I had already introduced them to the strange, red egg-shaped ball that is an Australian football, so we were planning to have a kick. However, there were already a bunch of teenage boys at the park, playing that OTHER football, the round-ball variety.

They were on a break, since their soccer ball had burst and they were waiting for someone to bring back a replacement ball, so the kids and I got on and had a kick of the footy. I can’t imagine what the soccer boys were thinking at this sight! I tried to get the lads involved by kicking it near them, but only had one or two takers. Most of them were bemused by it and treated it almost like a bomb when it came near. However, it didn’t stop them wanting a photo taken with me when they found out I was Australian. There’s now a bizarre photo of me among a bunch of Mexican soccer boys, wearing a New York Knicks shirt (American basketball), wearing an Aussie cap and holding an Australian football!   

After this we headed up the road to a local soccer ground, where there was a proper match going on, and playground. Here I had an interesting bathroom experience. Being a local soccer match in Mexico, the changerooms are guarded by an armed policeman and he led me into one of them, where there was a solitary toilet in the corner. When the time came to wash my hands, I looked around puzzledly for a sink, but he came and pointed to the cistern of the toilet, which was indeed filled with water, but obviously not the kind I was originally thinking! So for the first time in my life, I washed my hands in the cistern of a toilet…

The kids (and I) then had a play on the playground. I did not need my translator Irma for this, because fun on a playground transcends every language. The equipment was rusted and quite primitive, but they even had one of those wizzy-dizz rides that you hop on and someone pushes it round until everyone gets dizzy. They’re the ones that are very rare, if not extinct, in Australia because the local councils are too scared of getting sued.

We finally headed back to the house for gifts and goodbyes, sweaty and content after a couple of hours of simple fun. I much preferred this to the original arrangement, which would have had us doing a lot of sitting in cars.

A holy moment I have been able to experience in every visit is the giving of gifts. I brought pretty much the same thing for each child, with a couple of extra things for two girls having a birthday and the ones with larger families.

Every child gets a teddy bear, even the older ones. One cannot underestimate the comfort and security a person gets from having their own teddy bear, particularly considering the lives these kids have. My one boy Antonio will be getting a soccer ball and the girls receive simple silver necklaces with a fish symbol containing the word “Jesus”.

After seeing the living conditions of pretty much all the kids so far, I have often struggled to hold it together as I was struck by the symbolism as I put the necklace gently round each girl's neck and pointed out the word on the Fish - Jesus. He is their only hope, and I’m very blessed to know that the majority of my Compassion kids already recognise and acknowledge this.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post, David. I can just picture the boys moving away from the ball as if it were a bomb. Funny! I'm glad you had so much playing with the kids on the playground.