Little brother stood by, eyes all curious over the visitors that had come to spend the day helping on a special project.
Her mama, a beautiful, young, slight-built woman barely five foot tall, waited graciously to meet us as the four of us unfurled our limbs and struggled out of the tiny vehicle we had ridden in over bumps, potholes, and gravel to get to this particular village… to this particular home… far north in the Guatemalan rain forest.
Here we met Carlita, a very tiny nine year old, dressed in her very best dress, silently watching. When she was just a few months old she had a seizure. The doctor gave her an adult dose of medication, which resulted in permanent brain damage.
Fine motor skills are non-existent. Gross motor skills are extremely limited. She never crawled or pulled up like babies do. She can't talk or move herself. Her beautiful, graceful long fingers remain tightly clenched and drawn to her chest, and every aspect of her daily life needs must be attended.
Life in a rainforest village is raw and taxing under the best of circumstances.The muddy conditions that commonly define a day-in-the-village drastically impede the usefulness of the heavy wheelchair donated by loving donors. It often sits in the middle of one of their two tiny rooms while her mama continues to carry her where she needs to go.
Today's goal: pour a simple sidewalk so the wheelchair can be used to transport her more easily.
While the men went to work setting up forms of half-hewn logs and stakes cut from saplings, Carlita's mama excused herself from us and went to get her for the morning feeding. As she emerged from the side door of the house, the gangly nine-year-old stretched from her mama's shoulder and almost to her ankles. She won't be able to carry her like this much longer.
She sat at the table, and carefully smoothed Carlita's dress, then methodically mashed cooked beans with her fingers and put them in Carlita's mouth – all the while talking to her – stroking her cheek -- lovingly playing the kind of games any mama would play when trying to connect with a pre-verbal child.
Outside, we could hear the men discussing the layout of their work as they calculated how deep to dig, how much to fill, and how to ensure proper drainage in the slope. The sand and gravel piles looked a little short… Would there be enough to do the job?
All around the yard stood water in 5-gallon buckets and 50-gallon drums, readied for the concrete mixing step. Water is trucked to this village, so we were relieved to see rain run-off captured for the task.
Back inside the cook hut, Mary Jo and I began cutting up a chicken for lunch. Carlita's mama stood and carried her to the hand-crafted hammock so she could lie comfortably and watch the fire-stoking-soup-cooking-tortilla-making busyness.
No matter how she was positioned, Carlita preferred to look at her world upside down, and blessed us with a beautiful, rare smile. I couldn't help but wonder what was going through her mind at that moment.
Outside, the guys began hand mixing the materials and moving the heavy, wet concrete by the shovels full.
As soon as one of the men laid down a tool, Little brother scrambled to pick it up and show the big guys how much he could do, too. His papa patiently encouraged his efforts and guided him.
Rod and I didn't understand all that he spoke, but the expression of his heart poured out before God needed no interpretation.
He told how his wife had had a dream –that Mary Jo called and told her she was coming, and that she came bringing food and help.
When we showed up today – with Mary Jo carrying all the makings for the soup and the guys ready to work – we had no idea how God had prepared the day ahead of time to show this family and this child how much He loves and cares for them. God's presence is all over this beautiful family.
As we said our good-byes, we took in the day's work one last time -- a highway of freedom for one little girl and her family.
Love poured out in a simple slab of concrete…
~ from De's pen
[an outreach project with Dick and Mary Jo Crandall, October 20, 2012]
Rod & De
If you would like to participate in what God is doing in the Petén, Guatemala, contributions may be designated to "Guatemala/R&D" and sent to:
Crescent Lake Christian Center, 1250 Saint Louis Ave., Excelsior Springs, MO 64024