“PET KUNA, PET KUNA!” (Five kuna, five kuna!)
We parked our car on the little road and as soon as the door was opened at least five little guys screamed to us to beg for money. I pretended that I didn’t understand them and made a joke about it, as if they were about to give me “pet kuna!”
The woman recognized me and I recognized them. They came to beg at our door last week and the week before, and also this Summer. Always difficult to know how to respond to this. I usually give them a fresh juicy apple, like my mother used to do although my mother was freely giving and we not begging. As usual, very strong coffee was served in the barren house. One sofa, one tiny stove and an old wobbly table and one more piece of furniture filled the room.
More than stuff, people filled the room. In these few houses, five families are living here. Sadly only two men. One around sixty. The dad of the clan and his wife. The great-grand-grandparents actually. The other man left is the father of some of the kids. Three men are -lost in action- One in jail, one ran away, and one died while stealing some iron. Got hit by an electric shock. Such things happen. It was the daddy of a few of those begging boys around our car.
Grandma is my age. 38 Her daughters are mid twenty and their kids are the troubled teenagers. One is thinking about abortion. What else can you do, when you are a fourteen years old? None of the kids go to school. And there were a lot of kids: around twenty to twenty-five years old. They have no future, no hope, no education, no job and no other development.
A small toddler is crying. One of the girls, aunts, moms, sisters of what all, fills his bottle with the leftover strong coffee. He drinks it eagerly and after a while he gets so much energy that he throws a stick.
People are coming in and out all the time. I follow the kids to the pigpen. They are so happy with all the attention they get. And eagerly and patiently translate my stumbling with words. They are not tired of doing it over and over again. A rat runs alongside the pigpen. Some people are cutting the wood for the winter. A lot of work for the few men who are left behind.
Alongside the fun with words is a sense of hopelessness in the air.
Back in the main living room is some conversation going on in the midst of the chaos. We never leave such a place without some sharing of the Gospel and a prayer. This conversation was in line with a song that the kids often used to sing:
Is your door still locked? is your door still locked?
Please, open it up for God
Because he loves to live with you
and you’ll never be alone.
One little guy of around ten years old keeps standing there. In amazement looking to the one who is sharing. He puts his hand in the air and asks: ““What can I do to receive God in my heart?””
He is eager to hear. Eager to learn, Eager to know!
He kept asking and grasped the opportunity to know. And my friend explained. We prayed with him, a hand on his young head. Reminding me of the hand that had been placed on my head, just a couple of weeks ago and he was so satisfied. God knows his story, which is not finished.
Pray with us that he may flourish in the way God has intended for him.
I took Laurens with me this time, although I am not sure if it was a good decision. It is great to visit as mom, because I can be one of them and we share something very deep: motherhood. But it comes with a price. In the evening, after a good bath, I brought our little guy to his bed. And he said: ‘We came to live here, for these boys.‘ He surprised me by saying this. Utterly satisfied, he took his little thumb and fell fast asleep.
But he awoke and was sick a few hours later. He’s still not used to the bacteria that is found in these houses. While we rejoice that the little ten year-old was blessed today by our visit, it’s not always easy. Even Laurens pays a price to be here some days. But he sees why we are here, for the people here. He knows that we have something that they don’t have.
Something or Someone that we can share with them.