I made a friend and her name is Beemer. Well, not actually. Her real name is that of an other expensive European sports car, but from where she is from, it’s doubtful she will ever take a ride in her namesake.
Beemer is my friend and she lives in Telica, Nicaragua.
She is a mother of many (unknown to me), living with other women in the family. There are no men around. “Speak no English” is a helpful phrase that keeps me from delving into conversations I have no right to enter.
Beemer has a mouth full of gold, reflective of the dentistry techniques of the local provider. Living on dollars a month, I have no idea how this works out, but the gold covers over rotted and malnourished teeth, and gives her a glint in her smile. I can only imagine how much it must ache to chew with those teeth.
Beemer is contagiously happy!
Maybe this is one reason I like her so much. She had met many of my other team members on our short term mission trip, since many of them are repeat missionaries. Many of our companions have built friendships with numerous local families and children. Some have even sponsored youth through trade schools or paid their college tuition.
Beemer flung her arms in the air and ran to greet us when we appeared at her gate. She had been cooking tamales with other, younger women, in a large pot over an open fire. The women of the family earn their money by selling tamales on the streets to the people of Telica.
She was introduced to me, she smiled, glittered, and gave me a big hug, as if I was some kind of long lost uncle. Okay, then; “when in Rome,” I thought to myself.
Beemer was so proud of her house, one that our team had build on a previous visit. She insisted on giving us a tour. Pointing out a door frame that needed repair, she led us into the interior darkness, even while we were still swimming in the 95 heat and humidity.
The place was a magnet for Dollar Store extension cords, hanging from the roof, each (under)powering various appliances. The walls were adorned with blurry photographs, presumably members of her family, each dressed in a graduation gown, holding a diploma. Graduation is a big deal in Telica.
Beemer was so proud to point out improvements she had made to her house since it was built. She conversed with Spanish speaking members of our group, pointing up, down, over here, and over there. I stood in the background, arms folded, grateful to be invited into this woman’s home.
As the group filed out, Beemer pulled on my pant leg to stay behind. She turned and put an index finger in front of her lips. She wanted to show the new pastor from New York something. Through a nearly invisible passageway, Beemer led me behind a black plastic wall to a small bedroom in the back. Following was one of the many small children who belonged to Beemer’s household.
Lying on the bed was an infant baby, asleep, breathing shallowly, gnats flying around.
Beemer showed her golden smile as I sat on the edge of the bed and cupped my hand upon the child’s head, offering a humble blessing. She was beautiful; obviously a grand-daughter or great grand-daughter. It’s impossible for me to tell. What I can tell you, is that love filled the space; the love of a grandmother for a child, a universal love that so many of us share across boarders and cultures, across time and space.
All love comes from God, who first gives it. Each of us are so blessed to be recipients of God’s love. Church people, like myself, call this grace. We are even more blessed when we receive love that was freely given, and, in turn, freely give it away.
It is easy to love family. If I am willing to get over myself, put myself out there, and show a willingness to make new friends, I’ve found that it is just as easy to love new friends, too.
How about you?