If you’d ever come to my home, you’d quickly learn that I love birds. It’s a bit of a newer hobby for me; I have about 15 bird houses and feeders in my suburban backyard, which over the past year or two has made me quite popular with local crowd. Some people buy wine for their collections, I buy seed and marvel over the differing species’ interactions and habits of birds. To each their own I guess! I geeked out over this app that I recently found that identifies a species based on the location, date, size and colour. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been working here in El Salvador, so I am left frustrated when I see a new beautiful bird that I have never seen before. I suppose some things in life are meant to remain a mystery to us.
Much like the choreography of different birds interacting around a feeder, we humans too have the ability and choice to connect with those who are different than us. Patrick recognized this during our first dark drive home after a long day; the stars that our new friends see here in El Salvador are the same ones we see at home. We are the same, but different. Strip away all the superfluous stuff and you see that we all love the same, we mourn the same, we laugh the same, we smile the same.
There is not one team member that hasn’t made a connection with someone here. Whether it’s a fellow Novacom team member, our hosts, or one of the many young local men who work along side us day after day, or whether it’s a local who you just met and are gifting a new home to. Connections are all around.
This happened to me today. Sandra was the mother of one of the homes we were building for today. And from the minute that I walked on her property and set my tools down, there was something I connected with, with her. Some weird mom telepathy perhaps. But she was so encouraging to her children to interact with me when I was trying to play with them (most local kids are too shy or perhaps scared of me because I am always singing to the music and dancing). She was almost “outgoing” which isn’t like most women here. But regardless, she touched me in a way when I needed it, and I envision that if we weren’t worlds apart, that she would be one of “my people”. She told me through the translator that I was very beautiful and that I radiated joy and happiness, and given the burdens of my life at home, it was refreshing to know that I haven’t let them change me. And beautiful? Makeup is replaced with sweat and dirt, and clothes worn to the site are old men’s clothes from a second-hand store. I love that beauty to her is not seen the way most of us identify with.
I know when we come back next year that there is a decent chance that we won’t be near these communities again. But oh, how I wish we would. As amazing as it feels knowing we are building homes for those who need it, I really desire to continue building those relationships that have already been started. For the great Mr. Fred Rogers said it best when he taught our children the following:
“If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
Here are a few more photos from our day…