Happy belated Mother's Day to all!
As you read this, I am probably somewhere near the border of Guatemala and Honduras, getting ready to get grilled by some nameless border official.
I know the drill. When I slide my bulging, 8-year-old, frayed, passport under the window, the official will flip through the pages for several minutes searching back and forth through the haphazard collection of stamps I have accrued. Finally, she will find the stamp of my flight into Guatemala last night and nod her head in relief. Then she will get a puzzled look on her face and ask in Spanish, "Donde vas? Que vas a hacer?" ("Where are you going? What are you going to be doing?") "Why would you fly into Guatemala last night only to go to Honduras the next day?"
The grilling will last two or three more minutes. I will offer my spiel of explanations. Then with a final whomp! whomp! I'll get another stamp for my passport collection and enter Honduras.
Getting grilled by a border official is one thing. But that is nothing compared to the grilling I've received from my mother! Can I get a witness?
I Helped My Mom's Prayer Life...
My mom comes by this naturally, though. With all the stupid things I have done through the years, I have given her plenty of ammunition for her questions! Truth is, for over half a century I have given my mom a long list of reasons to be a dedicated prayer warrior.
Since my mom reads every one of these updates with a magnifying glass, today I muster up the courage to tell her of one of the stupid things I did on my last trip.
Confession to My Mom...
On Friday morning, February 3rd, I was at Cesar's place in Amberes, anticipating Nola's arrival into Guatemala to join us for the next 10 days. I got up as the sun rose for a morning run. One of my favorite routes near Cesar's house goes up a mountainside on a trail with some beautiful overlooks of the valley. Along the way I have to pass through a couple of clusters of houses where dogs usually bark and yap.
As I ran through the first housing area, a pack of dogs came running out to bark at me. They had done it to me dozens of times through the years, and all they had done was just bark until I passed their territory. But this day, a tiger-striped mutt chased and then caught up with me and nipped me on the back of my right calf. I stopped and shooed the dogs away with my baseball cap and kept on walking.
After getting away from the dogs, I looked at the back of my leg. I could see that the bite was more like a scratch on the surface of the skin. It didn't really hurt. So I decided that I would finish my run and doctor it up once I got back.
As I ran, I thought about the fact that if this dog had rabies, I would probably have to get a series of shots. But it was just a scratch! No big deal, right?
When I got back to Cesar's and looked at it again, there was a little blood dripping, but I jumped in the shower and quickly cleaned it up. After I got out, I put hand sanitizer on it and covered the wound with a big band-aid.
I thought about telling Cesar, but I knew that we had a bunch of things to do that day to get ready for Nola arriving that night. Besides, I was overdue for writing an update and needed to get my clothes ready and packed for the next week of activities. So I said nothing.
I stayed mum about it at breakfast. Then I went to work checking email and writing. Mid-morning I got a call from Nola in Dallas. She had made it there and was awaiting the flight to Guatemala. I didn't say ANYTHING to her.
At lunch, I avoided the topic. But a couple hours after lunch, as Cesar and I were gathering ourselves to go to the airport in Guatemala City, Cesar looked down and noticed the band-aid on my calf and said, "Esteban, what happened to your leg?" BUSTED!
Did the Dog Have Rabies?
When I told him, he got a concerned look on his face, and no matter how much I downplayed it, he knew better. "Esteban, this is not the United States. Street dogs rarely get their immunizations. No matter how insignificant a bite, the dog punctured your skin, and if it has rabies you are infected, and you must get the shots."
I knew he was right. I should have said something before. Now, because of my withholding of information, we didn't have time to get it checked out. On the way to the airport, Cesar told me that we would need to find a clinic in Quesada Saturday morning before we started the activities with the ladies groups.
Is There a Doctor in the House?
The next morning in Quesada, we entered a clinic and asked if we could see a doctor. "No tenemos doctor aqui hasta el Lunes." ("We won't have a doctor here until Monday.") After further probing, we found out that if we went to a certain pharmacy, they might be able to help us track down a local doctor. Once there, we learned that he was out of town. After telling the pharmacist my story, she called the doctor. He told her to give me an antibiotic and then come see him Monday.
We also found out that even if the doctor wanted to give me the shots, they didn't have that series of shots on hand. With no other options until Monday, I decided to take the antibiotic and proceed with our schedule.
Saturday, Sunday, Monday...
We dove into the activities. Saturday was a birthday party for Nola and a meeting with some of the women leaders in the region. Sunday we were in Jalpatagua with a ladies group and a few men from the Cattlemen's Association. Monday, we spent the day with a mayor and his wife in collaboration on future women's related projects. All the while, my bite was healing fine.
On Tuesday, we were back close to Cesar's house to meet with longtime friends, Humberto Solares and his wife, Enma, to do a Play.Story.Eat. activity with her class of 9th graders. We were to eat in their home around noon and then about two hours later would meet Enma's class for their last hour of the day. Since we were going to be playing with the teens, Cesar wanted me to look like a soccer player, so I wore my shorts and tennis shoes.
When we got to the Solares house and sat down to chitchat before lunch, Humberto looked down at my calf and asked "Que paso?" ("What happened?") I then told him about the dog bite. Since Humberto had worked for a former mayor organizing various public health programs, he immediately went into his health care mode. "Do you know where the dog is?" he asked.
"Si." I answered. "It's about a ten minute walk up a trail from Cesar's house."
"Esteban, we must find the dog today! Even if your wound is healing, you can't take a chance." Looking down at his watch he said, "We can eat, and then before the class we have time to find the dog."
After a delicious lunch, we headed out on our search. Since the place was off the beaten path, we couldn't drive. So from Cesar's house, Humberto and I set out on foot. With the sun beating down at the hottest part of the day, I was glad I had my water bottle in hand.
A Wild Dog Hunt...
Finally, we reached the house. As we walked up, the dogs were lazily lying in the shade. "Hola!" Humberto called. "Is the owner of the house here?" Immediately the dogs sprang up and started barking. I looked around and no tiger-striped dog. Soon the lady of the house came out, and we told her of my dilemma. "Are these all of your dogs?"
"Do you see the dog?" Humberto asked me.
"No." I said, now getting a little worried that maybe I had not remembered as well as I thought. From there we went up to the next house. No dog. For about 30 minutes we talked to people and checked out dogs. Nothing. Finally, when we hit a part of the trail that had no houses, we decided to turn around and walk back to Cesar's. As we came back past the first house, I looked over at the dogs again. "Humberto, there it is!" I declared.
"Are you sure?"
"Si. I'm sure."
Humberto called out to the woman of the house and told her of my conclusion. Being polite, she waited for Humberto to get through talking about the importance of knowing that her dog was healthy. Finally she said, "Your amigo doesn't need to worry. All my dogs had shots this year. A group came through here vaccinating animals. I think I still have the certificate they gave me."
Sure enough, she produced her proof. "Hallelujah!" I shouted.
"Gracias a Dios!" Humberto replied. ("Thanks to God!")
The Blessing of Friends Who Have Your Back...
Since that day, I have thanked God for His provision and care. Even though I didn't tell very many people, I knew that people were praying for me and that even if they didn't know what I needed, God did.
Besides the many prayers, I am grateful for friends like Cesar and Humberto who have looked out for me and loved me even when I have been stupid.
Pray for safety as we travel in the next few days, and pray that we will be the kind of friends for others like Cesar and Humberto were for me last February.
Thanks for your continued giving. It really is making a difference!
Take a moment to ask the Father who needs a dose of God's love through you today. Then follow through and love them like Jesus would.
By the way, since that day, when Cesar calls me, he asks if I'm frothing at the mouth or anything. "No. I'm good." I answer. "But I do have this strange desire to chase cats and bark at cars!"
PS...You can mail checks to:
Daybreak International, 11628 Oakmont St., Overland Park, KS 66210
On PayPal, you can give using the email email@example.com.
On our websites, you can give at www.PlayStoryEat.com or www.DaybreakInternational.org.