I stepped off the van to come face to face with Monica, a beautiful 20 year old girl with a bright smile. Bienvenidos! We follow her down to her house.
She motions for us to sit in a small room. There are flies on every surface, but we sit and they circle around us. I did okay the first few days with the flies, but now I am starting to unravel, and I’m angry at myself for being unable to restrain from shooing them away from my face. Monica shows us her cement-block home and her parrots and introduces us to her lovely parents. Her house looks like all of the others I’ve seen this week.
Monica was a World Vision sponsored child, as was her older sister, Dina, and as was her mother. Dina and Monica went through World Vision’s Suzuki method music program, and now Dina makes a living teaching music to children.
Dina and Monica play us a few hymns on the cello and flute, respectively. Their parents watch quietly and the pride in their faces is heartwarming. Monica speaks to us about how grateful she is to God for everything he’s done for her; to her parents for everything they’ve done for her. Everything about her is genuine. Her voice cracks, and she is crying.
“I want people to know that even though we are indigenous people, even though we are poor, we are rich because we have family and love.”
I lose it. I just completely lose it. I’m crying and mascara is running down my face and I’m wiping my eyes on my sleeves. Twenty minutes ago I had stood in inch deep mud and stared at a pile of dishes on the dirt ground and felt sorry for her and the way she was raised. I felt sorry that she was poor.
And I think about my own childhood. The home I grew up in had indoor plumbing and soft furniture, but it was also marked by brokenness and heartache and some things that I have not been willing to share, and I realize that I am a fool. How many in the US are rich in possessions, rich in things, but poor in spirit? Poor in gratitude and love and support and family? Poor in the things that really matter?
“We are rich because we have family and love.”
“I want what she’s got,” Matthew says, and all of us nod in agreement.
Monica replies, “You can take it with you.”
And I will.