As happens a lot here, even though we’d canceled class, some of our pre-teens came anyway. I was waiting for someone from SI and couldn’t leave the Site, so I pulled out crayons and coloring books (from our super-organized supply closet – hurray!) and let them hang out and color, a favorite past-time here.As they colored, they asked me questions like, What is Dark Blue? What is Tan? (The activity books were in English and included color-by-number.)
They also asked whether I had kids, a husband, a boyfriend, and whether the car out front was mine. That’s when Claribel asked about ‘una bola’. Una bola is Dominican slang for ‘a ride’.
I kind of thought she was kidding, as she lives less than two minutes from the Site. Two minutes walking. But she – and the other girls – were serious. And so, even after finishing coloring, they waited patiently until I was ready to leave.I went outside, unlocked my car, and turned it on to get the AC started. They all piled in, exclaiming how hot the car was. After baking all day in the 90 degree Dominican sun, I’m sure it was over 100 in there. I had to finish locking up, but they stayed seated (and sweltering!) listening to my 80’s radio station.
I got in, turned the car around and starting driving up the road. The three girls had my windows rolled down, and yelled and waved at everyone we passed.
Instead of wanting to be let out at Claribel’s house, they had me keep driving to the end of the El Callejon road, where it intersects with a paved main road. They said Gracias and jumped out.
As I turned my car, I looked at the three girls in my rearview mirror. They were walking together back to Claribel’s house, a distance about the same as if they’d just walked from the Site to her place!Some days I forget where I work. I forget how different their lives are from those back home. I mean, I can’t imagine any of the 11 or 12 year olds I know in the US or Canada getting this excited about riding a few minutes in a blisteringly hot car!
After eight months working in El Callejon, I’ve become accustomed to a lot of things which used to seem very different or downright abnormal. Part of me worries about that. I don’t want to get to the point where I’m so desensitized to things that I simply shrug them off. I don’t want to talk flippantly about neglected children and unfaithful spouses.On the other hand, I also want to leave myself open to the Holy Spirit moving in me, pointing out where my ‘normal’ is unhealthy. Sure, these girls don’t get to ride in a car very often, so that’s a Really Big Deal. But, they also were content to hang out and color with nothing fancy, no bells and whistles, no interactive, dynamic computerized graphics.
Is my culture’s ‘normal’ of constant noise, movement, more, more, more, really better? I’m not sure. What I do know is that since every culture is populated by image-bearers of our Creator, every culture bears His imprint. Sadly, since all have fallen, every culture also has places which reject Him, embracing instead sin and death.Part of our call in El Callejon is to help show the women, teens and girls, God’s ‘culture’ of love, trust, faith and obedience. Then, they will be able to hold up His Light to their ‘normal’ and see where change is needed. Of course, that’s true for me and my culture, too.
I rejoice today in tweens who yelled and squealed getting ‘una bola’ in my dusty, hot Tracker. Who spent two hours being entertained with nothing more than a bunch of crayons and kids’ coloring books. Maybe it’s not ‘normal’... and maybe that’s not such a bad thing! Maybe in their simple delight, I glimpsed a bit of the imprint of our Creator.