Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April 17, 2007

“Road end”….

Simply as it is stated, this is an area found just a few miles from our home that constitutes where the one and only public road runs out in this part of Guyana and the river and forest reign. From here, there is a small farming and agricultural area called Moleson Creek and is where the Guyana/Suriname stelling loads for a ferry crossing the Corentyne River to Suriname . As Brian and I long for peace and tranquility in our morning run, we found that running this stretch of road from “road end” to the stelling has provided more than we ever could have hoped for.

This route initially enticed us because it parallels the river, is encroached by the thick green forest providing shade, lacks traffic and is enveloped with the sounds of birds, insects and animals waking at dawn. But we quickly experienced many hidden blessings. For one, along this stretch of road can be found very small one-roomed stilted homes made of wood and with zinc or thatched roof work. There are many animals about the road and we have to weave around them and their, shall I say “steaming little presents” they leave for us to hurdle. But above all, what entranced us from the start were all the little children that can be seen up early and doing chores.

Barely (or not at all) clothed children are often up very early to fetch their family’s roaming livestock and manually milk the cows, collect water in buckets from the nearest water source, wash out clothes by hand, sweep the yard or walk long distances for needed supplies. But what we found to be most endearing are all the calls of “MORNIN’ MORNIN’”. In Guyana , it is proper manners to always say ‘Good Morning’ (morning to midday), ‘Good Day’ (around noon-ish), ‘Good Afternoon’ (1pm to 6-ish), ‘Good Evening/Good Night’ (after dark). Even if it completely interrupts anything or anyone, these greeting are spoken when you initially see people, walk into a room or business, answer the phone or board transportation. It would be bad manners not to do so.

As run after run and occasional hikes down the dirt track passed over the course of weeks, the sounds of “mornin’ mornin’” would ring out even if we could not see where it came from. We became increasingly drawn to doing something for the kid’s in this area to be involved in outside our primary projects. But the question remained…where? The only area that was really “available” that didn’t include muddy paths and fields was a small 12’ x 20’ church with merely wooden slats for walls, rusty zinc sheets on the roof and about five or six old wooden benches by the canal to the river with a banana tree field behind. After some investigation we found out who the church was affiliated with, got permission to use the space, and walked about the area down the mud tracks to the kid’s homes to promote our program. The Moleson Creek Kid’s Club was born!

Every Friday afternoon we load up the car with sports equipment and games, craft project supplies, story books and snacks and head down to the little church. Our arrival is usually announced by the honking of the horn as we head down the road and the kids come running from here, there and everywhere. Usually barefooted and with hand-me-down donated clothing from the US (for which we’ve seen some great shirts that make you smile for being out of place), the kids come to enjoy an afternoon of FUN! With broad smiles and lots of energy the kids fumble their way playfully through exercises, dribbling/passing/kicking balls, skipping rope (I made them from local hardware store supplies), and other various games and relay races they have rarely had the opportunity to do before. We then head in for our craft of the day. We’ve done everything from painting and coloring pictures to making masks, kites, pinwheels, butterflies, decorations and anything and everything else the creative side of me can think of. As the crafts wind down (for which the parents have equal enjoyment to the point of almost overtaking their kid’s projects) we begin reading various books and stories and share milk and snacks. I make and bring cold chocolate milk and you hardly hear a peep as they guzzle down the glass for want of more. For kids without electricity and many mouths in their family competing for food, it is as if they can’t get enough to drink and eat. As we load up the back of the station wagon and head down the road for home, we always look at one another, smile and share all the funny and wonderful things that occurred that afternoon. We instantly feel so uplifted by the energy they have given us.

What I am constantly amazed by is how life-giving this experience is for Brian and I. We went into this outreach project thinking that they needed something positive, something fun, something uplifting in their challenging lives. But what we’ve found is that we are the ones receiving just as much or more from them each and every week. For what these children lack in resources, means and opportunity, they are rich in their loving, giving and lively spirits. The families in this rural farming and agricultural area lead very challenging lives, but yet they continue to show us what hard work, contribution to family and will to survive and thrive are all about. We are just so blessed and privileged to share and walk with them in even the smallest of ways. What a gift!

Thank you for your continued prayers, thoughts and support in our ministry here in Guyana .

With peace and love,