I’m thankful for the market in the Copan town square. It was here that PCUSA/Heifer International missionary Gloria Wheeler purchased food to cook the most incredible lunches every day near the village where we worked. I’m also thankful for the farmers and vendors who grow and sell the food from their land, and Gloria who put a lot of time, work, love and care into every part of the meal that filled our tummies and souls so that we could “feed” others. And I’m thankful for the opportunity to buy pots, pans and plastic containers for the women of Brisas del Valle (upon their request) to help them build their homes and kitchens. I’m thankful for Gloria who took the time out of a long and tiring day to be our guide and interpreter in the market.
I am thankful for Hector Samuel, a 9 or 10 year-old boy, who greeted us every day at the bridge, with a smile and a helping hand. Backpacks, bags of clothes, boxes of supplies, Samuel would grab it and throw it into the blue pickup truck that would take those things, an excited Samuel and a few team members who were having knee or popped muscle issues, up the mountain. Samuel was amazing all week, mature and wise beyond his years.
I’m especially thankful for Samuel’s love and encouragement when I was pushing a wheel-barrow of 100 pound cement up two steep hills in extremely hot and humid weather. He and his friends were playing in an empty wheel-barrow as I began my trek. Samuel left his friends trailing behind me in their wheel-barrow and walked in step beside me. Every time I stopped to rest, he stopped. And every time I picked up the wheel-barrow of cement, Samuel began slowly walking with me. When I reached the top of the first hill, about 150 yards, I told Samuel (in English) that I couldn’t go anymore. Samuel (who didn’t speak English) began to ponder what I was saying. He knew I was tired but wasn’t initially sure what I was communicating. I pointed to a couple of the men in his village who were about 50 yards away on a plateau that separated the first hill from the second hill. A shorter hill, but one that I looked at and said “No way.” I told Samuel I needed the other two men to come and finish taking the cement the rest of the way. (Keep in mind that two other men in the village had already walked past me with a 100 pound cement bag over their shoulders)
Without hesitating, Samuel hollered at the men in Spanish to come and help. He was a blessing. After the other men took my load, I stumbled up to the resting tent. With a few near breathless words, I asked for water and Gatorade. I’m thankful for Sam Webb who gave me his Gatorade and Rob Keith who watched carefully over me. As Rob said later tongue-in-cheek, “I thought we had lost Andy.”
I’m thankful for this beautiful river that cuts into the land of Copan. It is a fantastic creation to behold.
I’m thankful for the girl who sold me this bracelet one evening in the hotel cafe after dinner. She was a sweet kid, very savvy. While holding out her bracelets, she would say, “These are goood bracelets. Youuuu can buyyy them for youuuur girlfriend, youuurrr friend, youuuur sissster.” At first I said no, and proceeded to walk to the cafe register to buy a Pepsi. And then it hit me that if I’m going to spend a couple of bucks, I should buy a bracelet from a girl who is scraping by to make a living instead of a soda (which I don’t need). I chose this one because blue is my favorite color and I liked the design which will always remind me of the moment and where I bought the bracelet.
I’m thankful for this woman from the nearby village of Bonete, who makes beautiful purses out of an assortment of fabrics, even T-shirts (but not her kids’. They make sure to hide their clothes from mom 🙂 ). I’m thankful for the gift of fabric made by Mary Geil in honor of Kim and Alan Klein who went on a few mission trips to Honduras in past years. And I’m thankful for being able to witness Brigid’s reconnecting with the woman and her family whom she met for the first time 2 years ago when working in the village of Bonete.
I’m thankful for this sweet and precious child Sebesio (and I apologize for butchering the spelling of his name). He didn’t say much but was one of the kindest and most gentle soul I ever met. I’ll never forget how excited he got to do VBS crafts like painting rocks. He and the other kids would turn to me and ask me what I thought of their artwork. I would say “Bueno” (Good!) or “Mucho Bonita!” (Very Pretty!) and they would smile and then they would paint some more and turn around for more affirmation and approval. I’ll also never forget how S. would proudly show us his collection of obsidian rocks which he would sell for whatever money we had, even less than 1 limpiere, which is not much at all.