Monday, October 28, 2013

Room at the inn

I took today off and spent all day in my PJs until late in the afternoon when Suzy and the girls stopped by.  I was sufficiently rested enough to take on Microsoft and install Office and Norton 360 on two of her computers.  Norton was easy, Microsoft makes the process as hard as it possibly can be.  To counter the annoyance of the installation, I suggested we all go out to dinner - my treat.  I sent Elsa to negotiate with the other girls (Sallie, Elsa, Lucy, Olimpia, and Gina) which restaurant we should go to.  "Burger King!" Elsa reported.  "NO!" I responded.  Suzy, ever the peacemaker, suggested the food court at City Mall.  Perfect.  You will soon see that all of this was leading to a very special purpose.  We had to be at the Food Court at City Mall tonight between 5:45 - 7:30.

When we got to the food court, I handed out 100 Lempira bills to each girl as they took off to find dinner.  One by one we met in the middle at a couple of tables pushed together.  I was at one end of the table while Gina, Elsa and Olimpia were at the other.  There were very few people in the food court.  We happened to sit at a table right behind a young woman and her baby.  No one else was near us.  As I chatted with the girls, I noticed the young woman kept looking at me.  I caught her eye and smiled.  She smiled back.  This went on for several minutes. Each time I had a growing feeling that she needed our help.  Still being a baby missionary in situations like this I was anxious for Suzy to return with her food.  Finally she did and I pointed out the young woman.  "Suzy, I think she needs our help."  Suzy, being an expert missionary, knew just what to do.  Within a few minutes, we learned her story.  

Dilcia is a 16 year old with a 14 month old baby.  The baby, Alex Eduardo, looks about 6 months old.  Dilcia joined us at our table and I took the baby.  He weighs next to nothing and is obviously malnourished.  Both of them are.  The father of the baby was murdered a year ago by someone stealing his salary.  She left her home, in another part of HN, because there wasn't enough food for her 16 brothers and 4 month old sister.  "They just fight over any food that comes in the house."  The baby has recently spent 15 days in the public hospital for diarrhea and other ailments ("fever of the bones.")  The hospital let her stay with him, probably because they knew she had nowhere else to go. He has a rash on his stomach and a congested chest.  She has a rash or something as well.  She has nothing besides the clothes on her back, her biking shorts poorly mended and about to tear again.  Someone gave her 100 lempira ($5) which she used to buy the little outfit Alex Eduardo is wearing.   She has finished 5th grade and has had some Christian formation.

So, what does one do in a situation like this?  Simple.  Thank God that He brought us to the food court (what if the girls had agreed on an Amanda-acceptable restaurant?) and put her right next to the table filled with missionaries (old and young!) from the LAMB Institute.  How does LAMB respond to a situation like this?  Suzy called Evelyn who replied, "We'll be right there."   

In the midst of this drama was comic relief.  Suzy pointed out that the baby was cold.  It was chilly in the food court and, being malnourished, he is more susceptible to the cold.  I rushed to the closest department store to buy him a blanket.  I found myself shopping for the cutest blanket!  Duh.  He needed the warmest blanket!  (God's little grace - the warmest blanket turned out to be the cutest blanket!)  Fanta, the soft drink company, had a promotion going on.  They would measure the decibels of a person's scream.  If it was loud and shrill enough, the person would win a watch and a soft drink.  Lucy was the first to win.  She was a shoe in.  Next was Gina, then Sallie.  All the while, Dilcia was looking over there, smiling in a "I wish I could do that" sort of way.  Suzy's girls and I went to get ice cream cones (unspoken motivation was to get a milk product in the young nursing mother.)  Olimpia wasn't nervy enough to try to scream her way into a watch so I decided to be her proxy.  The Hondurans were beside themselves as this old gringa walked up and shrieked into the mike!  (I was filmed!)  I won the watch (now Olimpia's) and secured a place in their hearts when I pronounced the Fanta "makanudo!" (Hondurans think it is hilarious when I use slang!)   Maybe my shenanigans gave Dilcia courage because up she went.  She really wanted a watch and screamed her heart out!  Success!  This young mother is a child herself.  The delight in her eyes as she put on her bright orange watch was beautiful.

Soon David and Evelyn arrived.   When Suzy's call came, they dropped everything, must have found someone to watch their boys, jumped in the car and joined us at the mall because a stranger needed help.  They talked to Dilcia, asking her some questions about her life.  Due diligence in an emergency situation.  Soon, they agreed we needed to take her in.  "It is the right thing to do," David said solemnly.  In fact, before they arrived, without laying eyes on Dilcia and the baby, they had already arranged for a bed and crib to be readied at our safe house!  They knew nothing about Dilcia and yet they prepared a room for her!   Ladies and gentlemen, this is what Christianity looks like.   

Tomorrow I pick them up to take them to see a pediatrician.   Suzy and I agreed they both need to be seen.  I expect to get a long list of meds, probably nutrition supplements, and who knows what else.  I don't know what will happen in the long term but tonight, thanks be to God, there is room at the inn for this young unwed mother and baby boy.