Apr 13, 2011
We have been blessed all week to meet the children that go to school at the church and those that are members of the congregation. This includes some older teens and young adults that were selected to be part of the work crew. The stewards of the church selected members of the congregation to receive paid jobs. They work alongside us shoveling gravel, mixing concrete, and participating in the bucket brigade it takes to move the concrete from outside the church to the pulpit, communion, and choir area we are building. These young men are hard working and always ready for the next task. As we've developed friendships and bonds with them we learn about the hardships of their lives. One of our favorites is "Davidson", a meek young man in his early twenties. Everyone calls him "pastor". His shoes are ill fitting and we learn he lives in a tent. Yet, he always greets us with a huge smile and an engaging laugh. There is another "Davidson" who is nineteen. He's tall and lean and wants me to give him the English names of everything he sees. There's also Booshan. A seventeen year old boy who can be very endearing one moment and stand-offish the next. Finally, there is Zachary who I believe is twelve. He's not old enough to work and appears to not be currently attending school. His smile makes you smile.
Today each one of these young men wanted to show us where they live since we've all asked at different times. We've taken to doing a daily walk in the area and have a general sense of the surroundings. It's heart wrenching. We braced ourselves to set out to further put a face to what we have heard and seen thus far. Zachary's house was first. It was a shantied hut pieced together from tarps, tin siding, and the shell of of concrete structure. It wasn't much, but it was dignified and he was proud to show it off. Next it was the younger "Davidson". He had his own place at nineteen that he shared with a twenty year old friend. It was immaculate, with everything in it's place. We were in awe and joked our resident ex-military guy Vann about how much it looked like his cot setup. It was impressive given his means. Next, the older "Davidson". He lives inside a formerly gated area (maybe a park at one time?). He has a camping tent pitched beneath two small trees. Wow. Given the rains we've experienced every night we wonder how he stays dry. We're already trying to figure out how to help him. He's the worse off. We've already given him shoes and a shirt. We then got to Booshan's house and meet his father and sister.
It was a very moving experience. These are tough people. They are living in very extreme conditions and making it. They feel no shame for their condition and are full of hope. It's clear their faith is the cornerstone of their daily survival and it's put to the test daily. You can feel God's presence here in a way that we don't experience it in the US. Everyday is a faith walk.