Tuesday, June 28, 2011

When Old Injuries Ache

When the phone rang late last night, I didn't want to stand up to answer. I knew it was Mike calling from Guatemala. I don't know how I knew this — it's just the same old ring as every other call, but I always sense when it's him, my heart so in tune with the husband of 22 years and a feel for six years of ministry there. My back is tired, and all I really want to do is go to bed, the king-sized one with fresh sheets in the spacious bedroom upstairs.

The house is clean, that's why I hurt. I bent over stairs to vacuum, the dog to bathe, two tubs to clean, laundry baskets, and my back aches in protest of constant work. It only always hurts in the spot of an old injury when I bend to overwork.

But the house sparkles, gleaming and awaiting the arrival of cousins, an uncle, and a new-found grandfather. There's broccoli slaw and chicken salad in a heavy-laden refrigerator prepared for memory-making around the kitchen table. Everything and everyone here waits in expectation.

Mike tells me of their Guatemalan plans. They finished medical treatment for four villages in three days. God has redeemed a half day so there will be time for the dump. This measure of time is God's grace because the dump is desperate and deplorable.

They will do some food prep of their own, many loaves of refried bean paste sandwiches, to feed those who live in the city dump, where there's only the desire to forget and no kitchen table. Their homes are made from foraged materials, anything that can be used as a buffer to protect from the elements. Their neighbors are vultures, and stray dogs, and the stench of toxic decomposition, but hunger is the vulture within and drives them to an unthinkable place in search of resources to sustain life. The dump is a place for cast-away things to die, and a population of people gather there to find scraps of trash to piece together a life.

This juxtaposition of here and there is another old injury that hurts ever much more than my back. So I rise and answer the call. The one ringing my phone now, and the one to ring my doorbell tomorrow, and pray God somehow makes room in one heart for both.

{Family photo from Dad's visit last summer. Pictures from the Coban City Dump, where our family fed the hungry in November 2008.}

Linking this week with Soli Deo Gloria and Imperfect Prose.
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