Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I expected tears

How does Suzy know so many people? Where does she find them? After all this time surely I would have at least heard of everyone she knows, right? No. One day she mentioned Pedro. Not too much detail but a friend she was worried about. He teaches English at a local school and has muscular dystrophy.  The Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church (MPPC) team brought, at Suzy's request, a wheelchair and a walker for Pedro.  We invited Suzy and Pedro over to dinner one night so the team could give him these items.  Suzy told me earlier that day, "Pedro is going to share his story.  Have the kleenex ready."

I am a crier here in Honduras.  Often I find myself bursting into tears, moved by the school children's voices or our desperate need for water at the Children's Home, or inspired by a young, painfully thin mother in the micro-credit program caring and loving her very disabled 2 year old, or my heart breaking over the newly orphaned 11 year old whose mother, one of our employees, died suddenly.  I cry at happy things, beautiful things, sad things, miraculous things...at just about anything!

So, I fully expected to sob when hearing, face to face, Pedro's story.  Here is his story in a nutshell.  He spoke perfect English, albeit with an occasional slur.  He pointed out that the tongue too is a muscle and is being attacked by MD.  He was born with a brain tumor.  By the time he was 6, it had become a serious threat to his life.  He had surgery and the tumor was removed.  His family abandoned him.  He was taken in by a foster family.  He developed Muscular Dystrophy as a young man.  He has reached out to his family, been rejected by them repeatedly, and he forgives and loves them.  He teaches 4th-6th grade in a small bilingual school for $200 per month plus a room.  The room is tiny, often without electricity, no kitchen.  He drives a modified motor bike with 3 wheels on the back for stability.  Well, he drives when he isn't too weak to manage it on Tegucigalpa's harrowing streets.  He is not sure he will be able to teach this coming year due to the progression of his illness.   He will lose his job and his room.  He has no family and there is no government safety net...He told his story in a pleasant, matter of fact way.  Each part was punctuated by a smile.  A couple of times he interrupted himself to teach us a bit of a praise song in Spanish.   When he was done I asked how we could help him.  He seemed taken aback by my question and deflected it.  I asked him again.  Well, we could pray for an assistant for him so he can keep his job.  Suzy asked him if he has light in his room.  Well, not right now because the circuit breaker is off but he has a friend who can come by to fix it.  Two of the men agreed to accompany Suzy and Pedro to his room to help get him inside and to see if there are any modifications to make his room more accessible.  In a feeble attempt to do something for him, I gave him a lamp out of my room.  His face lit up with the delight of an unexpected but wonderful surprise! 

Through all of this, I didn't shed a tear.  How could I?  As he recounted his story, he said over and over, smiling and with a transcendent peace, "I am not worried.  I trust in God.  He will provide."  Indeed.