Friday, February 13, 2009

Allowing ourselves to be nourished

I´ve learned something about God´s love this past week. Mom and Dad were here visiting, and in their week here we received countless invitations from neighbors to share meals with them. So we accepted, and ate homemade ecuadorian meals until our sensitive american bellies were full, full, full. Mom and Dad offered to buy the food they´d cook, or to pay for the desserts they served us that they normally sell from their homes, and no one would ever accept any kind of payment or reimbursement. Mom´s [grateful] reaction to this hospitality was ¨how do you ever get back at these people? how do you ever get even with them if you can´t give them anything in return?¨

Well, the point isn´t to ´get back´, ´get even´, or try to match or even outdo their hospitality. It´s a lesson in humbly receiving. Our neighbors here have a beautiful gift of giving, wholly and selflessly. And sometimes we just aren´t so good at being on the receiving end of that. I´m finding that this year is a lesson in receiving the generosity and love that is poured out for us, in allowing ourselves to be humbled in a way that we are not used to and not always comfortable with. Sort of like God´s love, right? I mean, who among us thinks that we´ll eventually be able to ´get even´ with the love shown to us through the creation, redemption, and sanctification of humanity? The Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection? We can´t match that. But we can open our hearts to it, humbly receive it, let it take root within us, and reflect it to others in the way we live our lives. Jesus washed feet, but also had his own face wiped. And that Face of Christ is in the giving and receiving of love, which often takes place over a delicious ecuadorian meal. So maybe God´s love is like when you drop by a neighbor´s house and somehow end up with a heaping plate of rice, lentils and plantains in front of you when you didn´t even think you were hungry....but it´s so yummy that you eat it all anyway.

[thought: i wonder who brought the bread and wine to the Last Supper?]


Other recent happenings:

My community and I successfully raised, killed, and ate 3 chickens. We bought 3 little chicks in early December and loyally fed and cleaned them for 2 months until they got big and tasty, just in time for Mom and Dad´s visit. We ran into a problem a few days before the planned of the chickens apparently fell ill. It wouldn´t eat, drink, open its eyes, or walk around. Two guards said it may be a little sick, or maybe it just got in a fight with the others, but either way should be killed immediately just to be sure (and, if it´s insides looked ok, it´d be fine to eat). One other guard and his wife swore it was the avian flu and would make us all horribly sick if we ate it. Jesús, my go-to woman for chicken questions, said it likely fell out of the hodgepodge coop we built, or got in a fight--it wasn´t sick, just sad, we didn´t need to kill it, it´s fine to eat! Alas, we killed it with Wellington (guard)and Soraya (his wife) and froze the meet until Jesús could inspect it for us. Typical Ecuador: everyone has differing, occasionally bizarre, opinions and suggestions. (in the end, we did not eat this one. Jesús cooked it and gave it to a very poor neighbor.)

As for the other two chickens, Jesús did the slaughtering and carving and I helped with the cleaning and carving. Dad took pictures, Mom said ´ewwww...´ a lot, but she did pull out 2 feathers (go mom!). One of the reasons of this adventure was to learn how to cook seco de pollo, a typical ecuadorian dish made by boiling down tomatos, peppers, onions, cumin, cilantro, and an ecuadorian fruit into a sauce in which the chicken is cooked. We had enough to feed Jesús´ family, the guards who helped us in this process, and ourselves. Vale la pena. Raise chickens: check!

Note to Andrew of Cabrini College: you asked me to mention in this blog if the chickens ever pecked through that ridiculous cardboard contraption we built for them.....they did´t! Although the screen/floor did eventually fall through, but Wellington resolved that problem by laying down a big piece of wood across the screen. The coop was a soggy busted mess by the time we killed the chickens, but it did hold out. :)

Exciting news fromManos Abiertas! Thanks to donations of childrens vitamins from generous folks in the States, the kids at Manos are now getting a vitamin at the end of the program every day! I did some math and with the amount of vitamins we currently have, Manos kids are set for at least 6 more months (through the rest of my time here), and our after-school programs in other neighborhoods may be able to begin giving vitamins as well. Thank you for helping us care for these kids.

Note: If you are reading this and are interested in sending down vitamins or shool supplies, please contact Helen Rombalski at If you´d like to make a financial donation to Rostro de Cristo, visit .
These are some of the beautiful little faces I see every day at Manos:

Jordy, age 5. Loves paper airplanes.

Playing Memory at recess.

Danny leading the big kids in Pictionary.

Yulisa, Ricardo, Anthony, and Juan Carlos receiving their vitamin.

Plucking the chickens!