We live behind tall walls. It is necessary. We have guards 24/7 and even with these precautions we experienced a break in earlier this year. We weren't the target of the armed masked bandits but our guards were taken and detained as the bandits feared our guards might hear and intervene during their robbery of the school next door. So, unfortunately, walls and guards are part of smart security in these parts. The tendency for me is to stay behind these tall walls except for shopping trips, going to church and other errands. Our kids walk to school through a gate connecting the two properties. Steve and I walk/run at the school within the walls. We can even occasionally catch our kids in PE class when they are on the soccer field. Funny story... Steve was running yesterday at the school and happened upon Sam. Steve decided to jokingly pants Sam (Steve only slightly tugged at Sam's shorts and did not truly pants him). When the class looked up they saw Sam pulling up his shorts (the couple of inches Steve had tugged them down) and a man running off behind a storage container nearby. Later Steve found out the kids had assumed the man was a teacher at the school who went rogue and randomly decided to target Sam in a humiliating pants prank. The kids were confused to say the least! Don't worry Sam is fine, his long shirt more than covered any part that might have caused any embarrassment! It's just the class of kids that were unnerved.
So living behind a wall tends to cut down on neighborly interactions. We have a neighbor directly outside of our gate, across the small dirt road from us. We wave and smile as we come and go. You know, we are friendly, neighborly people after all. The family has moved in since we have been here this year. The house is a sturdy cinderblock structure with windows cut out of said cinderblocks. It is well made and the family living there have three kids, a boy - 5, a girl - 3, and a baby girl around 3 months old. I had bought a gift for the baby shortly after she was born intending to walk over and visit and congratulate the family with a gift. I placed the gifts in a gift bag and set aside the large 8 pack of bottled water near the front door to remind me to take those things over to our neighbors. I am sad to say I didn't deliver the gifts until after the New Year. They sat alone and forlorn by the door for over 2 months. On January 12th Megan and I made chocolate chip cookies and walked the very short distance to give gifts and visit with our neighbors. It was Megan's idea. She was the driving force behind our trip across the dirt road.
We were greeted warmly and invited inside. The lovely young wife and her older husband ushered us into their living room and we began to talk and play with their adorable giggling children. I got to hold the beautiful baby and pass her on to Megan. Another neighbor and her kids from just up our dirt road were visiting at the time of our arrival. We were introduced and were told the baby of the neighbor just had her ears pierced. Apparently here it is customary to pierce baby girl's ears when they reach 4 months of age. The baby was sporting lovely gold studs. She was very fussy as well! I was told they had the piercing done at a local hospital. That neighbor had brought her 3 year old daughter as well. During our conversation the 2 three year old girls were repeatedly running from another room up to me to touch me and dissolve into fits of giggles before running off again. As they warmed up to me I would attempt to tickle them before they ran off. They shrieked with laughter each and every time! It was so fun to watch their joy bubble up and everyone in the room couldn't help but to laugh or smile with them.
We didn't linger too long. When we left Megan offered to help the young mother the next day. We were thanked again for the cookies and gifts and Megan was given the welcome to come back again the next day. The three year old wouldn't let go of my hand as I walked away. I had to untangle myself as gracefully as possible as we made our way back across to our gate. The next day Megan went back over to our neighbor's house and helped wash the dishes and got to know the young mother better. Megan later had a sore back from bending over and washing so many dishes (it took over 2 hours). Megan was deeply affected by her time next door. She marveled at this young woman's life and how different it is from hers. She wanted to help. Last year Megan and a few others had begun going out of our gates to get to know the women and children living just up the dirt road. They often helped the women with their washing. They learned how to wash clothes with buckets and brushes and a lot of hard work. The ladies would tease the them joking "white girls" don't do this kind of work! Megan loved being with them and learning their lifestyle as much as she could in small visits. But somehow being one-on-one with this young mother affected Megan on a deeper level.
She discussed with me how she could help this 20 year old mom. She asked me what I would think if she decided not to play soccer this year so she could devote more time to helping our neighbor. Specifically Megan wanted to help the young mother learn to read and write in french. While they were washing dishes side by side the mom had mentioned her longing to learn to read and write in French so she could help teach her children. In the young mother's old neighborhood there was a man willing to teach her but her husband didn't approve. Megan asked if she might be allowed to be taught by a girl. The mom responded that she thought that might be possible. I was deeply touched by Megan's willingness to give up her favorite sport in her last year of high school to help a neighbor. I advised Megan to pray about it and I would as well.
This week Megan is trying out for her senior soccer team. She is regretting not keeping in better running shape. However, she has not given up on helping our neighbor. I have been inspired by Megan and have asked our neighbors Denise and Jessica (on our side of the wall) if they would be willing to help Megan and me help our neighbor. Denise has this great idea to expand and see how many other women in our neighborhood might like to learn some basic reading and writing in French or English. Denise is going to see if we can use the school's Home Econ room to incorporate some western cooking and other life skills to teach alongside. Please pray these ideas would reach fruition.
It is so easy to stay inside the walls of my life. I am busy with all sorts of good things. I call myself a Christ follower. I intentionally model my life after Him. He stepped outside the walls of His house and and crossed a great divide. He walked among us. He lived and breathed and laughed and healed and wept and died for us. He rose again and sent His Spirit upon us so we could do likewise and even greater things. "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." ~John 14:12 Not to get preachy or anything... I need these reminders. This message is for me. I have all kinds of walls in my life. The one I've focused on today just happens to be physical.