But I don’t want visitors!!!
I had just placed the most scrumptious pile of pancakes on the table—everything was perfect. Homemade maple syrup, tasty canned juices, and even one pancake stamped with a heart and another stamped with a star for my two adoring children. The perfect way to start my Saturday.
“Jennifer! You have two young ladies here to see you—one has a present,” my husband called to me, his tone gently communicating, Please be polite and come and greet them right now.
But I wanted a quiet breakfast—the food is on the table. I deserve this! Everything is perfect. I don’t WANT a present right now!
I went out on the porch to see one of our 12-year-old friends, Leticia, who warmly greeted me and held out her beautifully-crafted handbag packed full of ganaos, my favorite type of banana that is grown here. I accepted her gift and realized I had been quite selfish in my thoughts.
Forgetting our breakfast table, I greeted her friend. Like Leticia, she was much taller than most Mayan women in our village. But something was wrong; she seemed to be smelling me more then seeing me. I assumed she was blind and gently shook her outstretched hand in greeting. My mind recorded what I could see: one eye off to the side, bottom lip essentially missing (from a burn??), large oval scar on right forearm, about 18 years old. She said her name was Angela and embraced me.
We released our hug and I turned to head into the kitchen with the bananas, only to hear a loud THUMP. Angela had fallen straight down to the floor, barely missing our railing on the way down. Both girls smiled warmly and apologized as I helped her to her feet. Flustered, I turned back into the kitchen, where my husband added a little humor, “You don’t usually have that effect on people!” We both grinned—I was so embarrassed.
As I laid the bananas on the counter, my mind quickly buzzed, What can I give Leticia as a gift??? Ah! I grabbed a two-liter bottle of Pepsi we had been given as a Christmas gift from our neighbors and asked if her family might enjoy it. Leticia was obviously pleased.
We learned from Leticia that Angela lived in a village a half-hour drive away and that she was waiting for a vehicle with her mother by the road. Six years ago, she had been terribly mentally disturbed—perhaps a weird psychosis had taken over—though she was no longer sick with it. Her bottom lip was missing because she had gnawed it off, and her family had had her teeth taken out to protect her from herself. The scar on her arm was a result of constant gnawing (you could see that the scar was teeth-shaped as you considered her words) and the scars on her chest (she gently opened her shirt at the bottom so I could see) were from knifing herself on three different occasions. When I asked why, she said she did not know. All she knew was that she had been very sick, and that the doctors could not explain it.
But what about her eyes? My husband and I spoke in English, trying to understand what we were seeing. She said that her eyes were cross-eyed from falling one day when she was sick. I asked if she was blind, and she answered that no, she saw two of me, but that when she covered her left eye, she would see only one. She explained that that was why she fell so often.
Angela stood close to me or looked straight into my eyes the remainder of the visit. When my husband stepped away, she whispered about some discomfort she was having and pointed. Realizing that she was commenting about how she was on her monthly cycle, I smiled and said that that was normal, that all women go through it to get ready to have a baby. She practically leapt into my arms, hugged me for a long time, and then blinked away tears. I realized that she was thankful that I would even remotely suggest she would find a husband that wanted her.
Angela hugged my husband and me both many times before she departed. I asked her to stop by again when she was passing through our village, and I was pleasantly surprised (with myself) that I actually meant it.
Prayer over our cold pancakes was said with awe and wonder that my children are healthy, strong, and smart. Their futures look bright. They have Christ in their lives and love Him as much as we do. I also realized that my days truly are not my own. Not in Michigan (though I can fool myself into thinking they are!) and not here in Mayalan. They are His and only His—my Lord God and Savior’s. I need to remember that daily and to focus on what He has for me each day.