The Weather in Our Neck of the Woods

Friday, October 5, 2007

Meet Salinda and Family

We would like to introduce you to Salinda. She lives with her 8 children, about a mile from us in a small room that she rents for $35.00 per month. I haven’t been there, but Ez has several times. Let me share a little of her story, at least a little of it that I know.

We met Salinda about 2 months ago after Ez had gone to her house to offer her a Bible study. She agreed, and they began to study twice a week together. She came visiting one day after several invitations from Ez. She had several of her children with her. We sat on the porch and visited for an hour or so. Because her dialect is different that most of the Panamanians that I have talked with here, we had a tough time communicating. Lynn, of course, just smiled and winked at the kids, offering them cookies, which made him an instant hit. Before they left I discovered that there were several older children at the house, three of which attend El Valle School. There is a 14 year old boy, Roberto, who is in 4th grade and a 12 year old who is also in 4th grade. Then there is a 9 year old girl in 2nd grade. I asked the Director about them later, and found that they are often sick, and miss a lot of school.

The next time she visited she brought a purse she was trying to sell. The older boys were in need of notebooks for school so she was selling the purse to buy notebooks. The purse was handmade; G’nobe Bugle tribe artwork. I had school supplies here so offered them to her as a gift. We had notebooks, pencils, pens, colors and a few other things, thanks to Riverside (in Arkansas). She was hesitant to take the gifts at first, but when I explained that it was just for such purposes that you had sent the supplies, she smiled and gratefully took them. We also gave the younger children coloring books and crayons. Before she left she gave me the purse. It is hanging on the wall in the living room as I write this.

The next week Ez mentioned that one of the boys was sent home from school because of his shoes. Uniforms must be worn by all students. I went to the school the next day and asked one of the teachers what happened when a child did not have their uniform. She said that the Director would try to find them what they needed, but if he could not they would be allowed a ‘few weeks’ to purchase what they needed. As I asked more questions, I found that the children had been making fun of Roberto for his torn up shoes. He was not sent home for being out of uniform, but because he was upset and did not want to be embarrassed more, so the Director sent him home for the day.

We bought 2 pairs of shoes the next weekend. Both boys were wearing shoes without soles. Now they have sturdy new shoes.

Salinda visited for the third time this past Tuesday. She was not smiling as brightly as in times past. She almost immediately told me that her oldest daughter went to David last Saturday because she was in labor, ready to have a baby. She had not heard from her since and was very concerned. Her daughter is 16, lives with her, along with her boyfriend, who works, but drinks heavily so has no money. She did not have the money to go to David to check on her, and the boyfriend had not been around in days. She feared that her daughter did not have the fare to ride the bus home with the new baby. Our car is still dead, so I could not drive her down, but we offered her money for fare to David and back for herself and enough to get her daughter back as well. She was very grateful, and offered to repay us when she returned. We knew she did not have the money for that, but asked her to make some purses for us instead. She was happy with the idea.

Ex went for his study on Wednesday with her and found out that in fact her daughter did not have fare to get home, and the doctor said she was too weak to be released, knowing she could not go home, so she stayed in the hospital until Salinda went down on Tuesday night. Now both mom and baby are in the apartment with Salinda and her 7 other kids.

Salinda shared with me her story on her second visit. She was ‘sold’ to a much older man when she was 12 years old. This man fathered her first 6 children. Actually she had 8 with him but 2 died in childhood. After his death 4 years ago she moved into town and began to support her family alone. She is 100% Indian, uneducated, and speaks a slightly different Spanish than non-indian Panamanians. ( This is typical because they have their own language and Spanish is a second language for them) For all these reasons, and more she has had difficulty finding permanent work. She did find a new man. She married a 26 year old man last year. He works full time at a local bakery for $6 / day. That does keep some food in the house, and pays the rent, but not much more.

Ez returned to share the news of the daughter’s return, and also voiced his concern for the baby’s welfare. The entire family sleeps on mattresses on the floor, including the new mom and baby. The room is about 20 x 12 with an attached bathroom. It has lights but nothing more. They have no beds, but do have a dining table and some old chairs. Salinda is grateful for what she has and says she looked for something more but could not find anything they could afford. As I hold my tiny Anna Valery, I cannot imagine that new baby sleeping on the cold floor, with all the crawly things we have here. It breaks my heart.

Tomorrow Ez will be taking two of our bunkbeds to Salinda. We are not sure how she will react to this. It isn’t that she is very proud. She is way past that, I think. She does not want to impose on us or anyone else. She is of a different culture, and so we walk carefully. We do not want to offend her. We will ask her to make more purses as well. Of course we will pay her for the purses, but she will give us a really good deal on them, so she can feel she is doing her part. This lady is why we are here, right? I mean, isn’t this what Jesus was all about? Helping each other out? While we are saddened by her conditions, we are thrilled that we can help her. It’s a cup of water in Jesus’ name, and we get to offer it to her.

Again, thanks to you all, we get the perks of your gifts to others. You give; we get the thanks, and the face to face contact. So we offer our thanks to you all. Feel free to come down and get the face to face yourself whenever you like!

All because of Jesus! Lynn & joy

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