We celebrated 4 July this year; after a day of work, that is.
First, there were Americans involved: 8 of us actually, and one Canadian in the mix.
Second, there was Western food involved: we went for sandwiches for lunch, and had burgers for dinner. Well, chicken burgers & rice burgers; Thai beef makes me nervous. I will have you know that we had chicken burgers left at the end, and no rice burgers left, so you should be jealous and ask me to make them for you in America!
We also had a pretty stellar cake, if I may say so myself.
And in true form, we watched Independence Day.
But the real treat?
I snuck outside after Independence Day had started. It was just after eight, and there were still a few kids on our porch. I felt a pull to go sit with them, so I walked out to visit. Three of them left with in a few minutes of smiles and high fives, but Yuh Meh Oo stayed. She jumped up into my arms, wrapped her legs and arms around me, and laid her head on my shoulder.
She just laid there for so long. I rocked back and forth standing there, and occasionally she’d squeeze me with a tight hug. She pointed out the moon, which was absolutely stunning–full and bright amidst a dark, rainy sky; framed between two banana trees in our yard. It was gorgeous.
So I watched the moon, and I held her.
And then I got tired, so I sat down on the bench outside. She curled up next to me, and sat there, scratching mosquito bites. We didn’t even attempt to say anything. If I moved in the slightest, she curled up closer to me. And I stayed.
I began to pray for her. She seemed to just ache for something. And so did I. She means so much to me; more than I could say and definitely enough to surprise me. She represents something as well; she represents the ache I have for the community–an ache to know them, to share with them, to encourage them, and to love them. And she represents all I can do at this point, show love and pray. And then show love again and pray some more.
The whole situation hurts me. That we can have friends over for a delicious meal, enjoy a movie on a laptop and speakers, and celebrate the freedom that we’ve known our whole lives. Meanwhile, she sits across the street, in a completely different scenario.
I’ve been preparing statistics for my curriculum this week. I have a selection of sixty countries, and I’m gathering statistics to help my classes compare development around the world: gross national income per capita, adult literacy rating, life expectancy, mean years of schooling, internet users per 100 people. And this week, when I’ve been watching the kids–they make up these statistics. If I have kids, they’ll make up the American statistics of high literacy, high access to phones and internet, low infant mortality rates. But here, statistics haunt them. And somehow we live within inches of each other. We give each other hugs and probably lice and worms, too. But our life expectancies gap by 13 years; our annual incomes gap by an amazing $41,482.
There was more prayer: giving thanks for freedom, and praying it upon these families; giving thanks to be here and celebrate this moment with Yuh Meh Oo, but praying for her future to be glorious. Praying that she might know the love of Christ, hope in someone greater than this world, and be an amazing piece in the coming Kingdom.
Quite a lot of time went by, and I stood up, thinking she should probably head home as most the community was in their homes. She went over to her flip flops, but hesitated a little. She twirled one with her toe, and then turned around and ran back to give me a hug. When I reached to return the hug, she jumped into my arms and immediately laid her head on my shoulder again.
Another ten or twenty minutes went by when I saw her grandmother heading toward our house; so I pointed her out and Yuh Meh Oo jumped down to get her shoes and meet her in the street.