Monthly Archives: August 2011

Mexico

These are the photos of Mexico which most impacted me. They tell stories…some of those stories we came to know a bit, others are still hidden, but they are there, clearly there for the discovering.

I love this shot. You may notice the parallelism between the “doing the job” legs of the table and Herason’s. Herason was probably the most joyful and embracing child in the village. He looks to be about 6 or 7. He is most likely 10-12. Herason has a heart condition; Lenora pointed out all tale tell signs of such to the soon to be medical folks on the trip with us. She showed them what to look for and let them listen for signs of trouble on the stethoscope as well. I loved that moment. Herason was delighted to be held by the beautiful blond while Miss Lenora checked him out. I loved that Miss Lenora was able to give his mama some valuable information and that the students got an opportunity to gain skill and insight in such. And maybe most importantly, the students realized that this little fella, who we all loved so, needed someone’s help, as much as the kiddos as Children’s Hospital do. But, there is no Children’s or even a Doctor’s office within hours of where Herason lives…if his family could afford it. I watched those future UAB Medical School students and the gears behind their eyes turning. I know overseas clinics have long been a hazy dream for many of our Edgers…I think on this trip, now 18, graduated and better able to see forward, some clarity came for them.

This is Eduardo. He helped us dig, load and carry dirt and rocks, even mix cement. He’d be waiting in the morning for us and wave us off every evening. Yes, he ran and played, squealed when he was grabbed up and held high or upside down, but he also worked along side of us, for a smile and bit of our Gatorade, and picture or two with us, which he will most likely never see. He is poor. His home is small, surely crowded. I don’t know if there is water within it. There were chickens walking within it. But, he seemed free and mostly happy and strong. He did not whine or ask us for breaks or beg us for anything. He seemed so happy, just to be near and known and playing a part in all we were doing, together.

I don’t know this little girl’s name. She did not so much interact with us. She watched us. I guess turnabout is fair play. I wondered what she wondered about us. I wondered what her imagination may have suggested to her, mine certainly made suggestions to me. I wondered what fears of us or maybe contempt may have held sway in her. I wondered what she knew that I did not, perhaps foolishly, know.

This is my favorite picture ever. And why I take pictures and Kenzie captures moments, stories on “film.” Kenzie lingers well, she is usually a step “behind” us…we’ve probably run on ahead of the moment. I think she got this shot as we were hurrying on in to set up for something. I remember looking back and seeing her with this little bit outside the child’s house. In many ways for me, this is the shot, the encapsulation of the trip. I love freeze frame water shots. I loved to see movement “captured,” the fluid for a millisecond stilled and life truly “ever now.” The beauty on this child’s face is nothing less than manifested life. This moment was, is, is to come. It is always NOW, always alive.

all Photos: Kenzie Greer

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greetings!

My kiddos at home and school, DO NOT hang on the porch, sit atop our fence post or climb a tree to get a glimpse of me coming.

My kiddos at home and school, DO NOT usually hug my neck or kiss my check in greeting. They do not throw their arms about me or clamber up and onto my back whenever I come near. My kids are pretty dang affectionate. But never have they been so very glad to see me, their mama…even when I have been away awhile, as were these kiddos.

I was, we were, perfect STRANGErs. We didn’t look like them or understand most anything they said to us…we didn’t dress like them or style our hair like them or have hardly anything in common with them…all that they knew was that we were coming to see THEM! And that seemed more than enough to warrant the greeting we gained.





 

 

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scenes that stuck






These are some scenes that are stuck in me from our trip. Sweet friends we made. Tender times with the kiddos. So glad Kenzie got these awesome shots to commemorate them. Y’all know she is just 15, don’t you. Yeah.

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Who can you get your arms around?

It was a privilege to go to Mexico…a huge capital outlay in the scheme of things, worldwide. We each charged above the clouds on fuel costing the equivalent of a family’s yearly wages. We laid out dollars for fun and food that would have been a year’s food budget for an entire family. Were they wasted? Our monies, if not our efforts to make things a bit better? Should we have sent it on in our stead? There are arguments for such, against the self-focus of short-term missions. They make me stop and think, those lines of reasoning.

Others say, “Can any small act really do any good? What really changes for those children, when you leave?” I’ve been thinking about that… and my answer is… nothing, maybe,… if we don’t do more than take precious or probing pictures, eat a few tacos and battle a few bugs. Change comes only when we get our arms around in real ways…flesh and spirit alike. When we take hold of what we can, maybe not a nation, but a boy or girl, with a name and a favorite color. If we all were to grab up, hold close in prayer and elevate with our resource, just that one little boy or girl or maybe even a handful, much would change, at least for those few. And we can do that, many of us.

Not everyone can board that bird and hang with the not so ( hostile) in the hostel. Not everyone can go and see and touch and feel warm breath and tightening fingers. Not everyone can sense the search of hopeful eyes. But, everyone, who names the Name of Jesus, can do something: pray, give, sponsor, go.

We took these young people to Mexico to ruin them. All of us adults had been before, somewhere. We knew what we were doing, we didn’t for a moment hide that fact from them. We warned, “Your life is going to be ruined. All those plans… you’ll never see the world the same…You are going to fall in love and come to hate all that works against that love in you. Things in  you are going to die there…and so much in you be raised to Life.”

All of our kids will not spend their lives overseas or as “missionaries.” That’s not our goal. Our goal is that their lives and ours be lived always on mission: loving God and loving people.  Some of those people we are to love do live other places than we do. Lots of them do.

I hear the LOrd saying to me, “Kim, who can you get you arms around? Take them up and carry with Christ their burden, sit with them in their suffering and come near to help them in their need.”


What is He saying to you?

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the least








photos: Kenzie Greer

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no woman’s land

We ran a VBS for the children in Chemax. Many met us at the church on Tuesday. As the word got ’round town, more and more children appeared each day. Most of the children who came were young: under 10. Many of the smaller ones came accompanied by an older child, presumably a brother or sister. Their chaperones through the small city were usually 10 -14 years old. I watched these older children carefully. Clearly, our games and crafts were designed for younger fingers’ navigation. I watched some of the older ones reluctantly take an extended paper or pen or shaker of glitter, and then fall headfirst into the fun as well.

We took many photos with the babes, they were adorable and their faces so expressive. The older children for the most part held their faces more tightly, especially the girls. Many of those mama’s in training or maybe mamas already, came and stood about the periphery, watching, smiling gently…but not engaging. They seemed intimidated by us and dwelling in a no-man’s land…where they were neither adults nor children. Some of the “teenagers” who met up with us, still went to school. They were more talkative and eager to learn our language and school us in theirs. They chatted and laughed with us. But those around the edges stood mostly quiet.  I expect that they had traded lessons in language for lessons in life long ago.

Some of our girls noticed this and that quick escape of Childhood. The Mayan young girls/women who had babies to keep a hold of all the time and toddlers to train in all manner of things and others to keep an eye on… were 10 or 12, maybe 14 years old. Soon, they would marry and have their own to care for in the stead of these siblings. I watched those dark-eyed beauties watch my girls: tall (by their standards) and fair and living lives that must have seemed so foreign or unfair. They laughed and snickered at my girls who at 18 were unmarried, some without even a suitor.  I watched them wonder at us, women across the sea from our homes and husbands. In time they took hold of our hands, moved closer and clung tight to us as well as those little hands. I watched some of them appear to think hard, maybe about walking away to a life in our shadow.



We didn’t spend too much time in the homes of the villagers. As you can see, the Mayans were gentle, their children embracing, but they as a people did not seem so welcoming when it came to their homes. We had no invites. ( In Costa Rica we could not travel a block of metal shed homes without an invite to come sit and sup.) So, I don’t know how life goes for those girls who live in large families and feed, cook, clothe their brethren with no running water or power. I don’t know what more awaits them afterward either. More of the same, I imagine.

The babes were beautiful.. I lifted them and embraced all who would come near. But the girls… gained my heart. Quick eyes and sharp wits, hearts hungry for knowledge and new ideas. I watched them in the background of my future doctors and professors and NGO CEO’s. I watched them stand just behind women who have been recruited and wooed by universities to wear their colors,  women who will choose their own path and life’s work and where they will live and travel to visit. And I watched them, well one in particular, lean back with her full weight, her hands finally free of small fingers, into womanhood she may not have otherwise ever known, and sense a solidarity deep and driving… and just maybe, destined.

And I wondered what is mine to do, besides just watch.

header image: Hannah Rettig
text images: Kenzie Greer

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