It was a Sunday, December 12, 1993, one month and one day after Kim gave birth to Hannah when I flew to Guatemala to pick up our adopted seven-year-old boy, William. Kim couldn’t travel yet because it was too soon after giving birth, so it was just me. Neither Kim nor I could speak Spanish well, so our little family became tri-lingual: English, Spanish, and Charades. A whole lot of charades.
Besides doing all the paperwork, getting passports and approvals for travel, meetings with embassy officials and lawyers, there was one day for sightseeing and limited travel. Wil and I had a “driver” named Walter who I learned late in my stay he was actually our bodyguard. Walter made sure Wil and I didn’t stray too far off the beaten path, didn’t wander down streets where “gringos” weren’t welcome.
On Wednesday of that week, Walter took Wil and I to Antigua to a mission and a market. We also stopped at the orphanage Wil had stayed in so he could say goodbye to his friends and I could meet them. Thomas and Elizabeth were the house parents for the boys and girls at this orphanage. It was tough on Wil and tough on me. Saying goodbye generally is, I guess.
On our way home, there were two Guatemalan women and one Guatemalan girl walking along the side of the road. They wore colorful clothing, and on their backs were what looked like heavy loads. Being ignorant and rather impolite as I think back, I wanted to get their picture to show Kim the countryside and the people. Walter stopped the car. The women were embarrassed, even after Walter explained to them in Spanish what I had wanted to do. One would push the other in front while the other woman hid behind her with her daughter.
I felt ashamed. I didn’t mean to embarrass them. Walter assured me it was okay. I ended up not taking the picture. But I won’t forget them, nor will I forget that day.
I reflect on that trip and that day often. I think back on those two Guatemalan women and the little girl. The girl was barefoot, and the two women wore sandals. The load they carried must have been heavy, because both women were stooped over. Even the little girl, maybe nine or ten, had a load to carry. Hers wasn’t nearly as big as the two women, but it was a load nonetheless.
I don’t know how far they had to walk. We were way into the countryside. I hadn’t seen a village nearby, but that isn’t to say there wasn’t one. There was no pickup truck to carry them or their load. They walked along a rutted dirt track up and down hills. Carrying their loads. Big and small.
This week, I was visited by a counselor who wanted to fill me in on one of the students I was working with. Mom and older brother suffering from severe mental illness. The boy I worked with had gotten beaten up by a group of other boys and lived in fear.
An administrator stopped me in the hallway to share some information about another student, a female who suffered. Much of it, brought on by herself, but she suffered just the same. So did her parents.
Each of those students, each of those families carrying a load. Unlike the Guatemalan women and the young girl, we, I, can’t see the load these students carry. Unlike the Guatemalan women and the young girl, we, I, don’t see the stooped shoulders. We might even see a smile- a façade, but a smile, or partial smile. Sometimes, not even that. Just a flat affect.
And there are others walking hallways, sitting in offices, walking the streets, driving their cars or trucks, sitting on sofas in the living room, carrying loads.
Just because we can’t see the load they carry doesn’t mean they don’t have one. A relationship turning south. A job on the brink. Bills mounting with no income to pay them. Kids who suffer, who are unhappy, who are afraid, who might want to give up, who feel no one cares. Unloved. Uncared for. Hungry, not only for food, but for comfort, a hand, a shoulder, a hug, a kind word.
And we, you and I, can provide that for them if we just take the time to notice. Doesn’t cost much but time. Doesn’t take much to say something kind. Doesn’t take much at all. Something to think about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!
To My Readers:
Time is running out on the special preorder deal offered by the publisher for 15% off the Lives Trilogy and Prequel! The links are below! I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover, or perhaps, discover, the Lives Trilogy and Prequel.
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Outnumbered and outgunned, George is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/splinteredlives
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Spiral Into Darkness: Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com
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