I was thinking about this past week and some of the funny things that have happened, so I decided to write them up briefly, by my standard anyhow. Enjoy!
The other day Rebecca and I headed to San Francisco for a job interview. We had a great time, met some interesting people and felt overall welcome in our new city, then grabbed an afternoon mini-bus back to Santiago. These are much nicer than the mini-vans that travel within cities or to neighboring cities, this one even had A/C. Think "senior center activity bus", and you'll have a good idea of what it looks like. Just as the bus was pulling away from the stop, some guy with a level and a hammer jumped on the bus. The driver immediately stopped, telling the guy there was no room and that he should go away.
"But there are two open seats right back there!" he protested.
"Those are for people who called in, I'm picking them up on the way. Now get out!" he answered.
Construction-dude indignantly exited the bus, only to jump back back on before the door could be shut. By this time, the driver was fully out onto the busy avenue and was yelling at the guy to get off the bus. Construction-dude angrily refused, and while they were going at it and Construction-dude was forcefully taking a seat, a FAMILY OF FOUR squeezed through the still-open door, making themselves comfortable (relatively).
At that point, the driver cursed under his breath, asked for the door to be closed and set off for Santiago. Man I wish I'd recorded the whole thing.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of going out with a bunch of Baha'is from all over the country, who were here in Santiago to discuss and study community-development, to visit families whose children are involved in Jr. Youth Groups. It was a scorcher of a day (surprise!) so I grabbed a bottle of water on our way to one of the neighborhoods.
My particular group finished up more quickly than the others, so we headed out to wait on the street corner, where I quickly finished the water so I'd have plenty to sweat out later. As a matter of convenience, I stuck the empty water bottle in my back pocket, and proceeded to loiter around the block, waiting for the others.
Almost two hours later, back at the Baha'i center, I took the bottle out and set it down.
Just then, one of the ladies who'd been with us gasped, then laughed out loud. "Oh! That's what that was! I guess that makes more sense," she said.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
She then proceeded to inform me that the average neighborhood drunk can generally be distinguished by the clear bottle of rum sticking out of his back pocket. Maybe the next home visits can focus on Baha'i views on alcohol!
Y'all come back now, ya here?
In order to support the aforementioned gathering, we offered hospitality to three wonderful youth from San Juan de la Maguana, a lovely city surrounded by mountains that turn a gorgeous hue when the sun begins to set.
These are seriously quality young men. They're heading into their senior year in high school and they have completely dedicated their lives to the service of their faith and their community. They are hard workers and have an amazing capacity for both details and a wider vision of what they're trying to accomplish. When we first got back to the house after a very long day at the conference, I gave them a quick tour, then got distracted by a phone call from Max (Rebecca and the kids were out of town). When I wandered back through the house, the three of them were in the kitchen, finishing washing the dishes in our sink! I protested, but they insisted. If only my children would do the same! One of them even gave us a magic show!
Anyhow, we had it set up to put a bed each in two of the bedrooms, then a mattress in the living room, but they're best buddies so we moved all of their stuff into one room. This morning, our ride showed up and I headed out to the car, thinking they'd be right behind us. After waiting for quite a while, I headed back in to see what the hold up was: They were carefully folding the sheets they'd used, had moved one of the beds back to the room it'd been in when they'd arrived, and were in the process of cleaning up the mess my kids had left in the bedroom that I'd been too lazy to take care of before our guests arrived!
Having had adult guests who didn't even bother to do any of this (and I've probably been one of those people too), I was thoroughly impressed, as well as encouraged for the future of the human race. It's young people like this who are changing the world, as well as educating the younger generations to do the same. The future certainly looks bright!
Dios los bendiga
The kids and I headed out to get some ice cream for Rebecca (and ourselves while we were at it) this evening, about a 15 minute walk down a busy street near our house. I was doing an experiment with my kids at the time, refusing to answer any of their questions about where exactly we were going (I'd even prohibited questioning me before we left the house) and I was in the midst of pondering the significance of their inability (refusal?) to let an unanswered question rest, when a couple of sweet moments occurred.
A very thin old woman, her face wrinkled and tanned like leather from years of, well, life, was heading down the sidewalk toward us. She had quite a load to carry (a plastic bag with two 40 oz. of Presidente) so I scooted the kids to the side to let her pass. Her face lit up when she saw the kids: "Oh! God bless them! They're so beautiful!" she gushed. "I just love kids. I had 15 myself, and would've had more if I could have. They're just so wonderful, I love kids so much. You're very lucky to have them. God bless those beautiful children of yours!"
I thanked her, marveled at any woman who could bear and raise that many munchkins, returned her blessing and bid her farewell.
A few blocks down, a woman and her two small girls, braids bouncing as they skipped along, were drawing close to us. We all said hello, and the youngest girl instinctively reached out to Max, who jumped back in confusion. As the families passed each other, I reached out to shake her hand as she went by, with "holas" and "bye-byes" floating simultaneously and another set of blessings gracing us from their mother's lips.
There is much to fix here, as with any place on this planet of ours (anywhere I've lived anyway), and those problems should not be ignored or glossed over. However, there is so much good in this country, so much sincere caring and love that people bother to express, I can't help but realize that God truly has already blessed us.