Monday, March 23, 2009

Soul Journal: The Market, Tears of Joy

Whenever a group from Heartland Church goes to El Salvador, we visit a woman named Haydee, whose name I am not sure how to spell. I've seen it written in several ways and I'm going with Haydee, because that's how I saw it first, but it's pronounced "Hi Day." We have a special relationship with her and here's why.

Ten years ago, Bill and Joyce went on our very first trip to ES, in order to see if Heartland should commit itself to a long-term sister-parish relationship with the community of El Tablon. They came back with photographs, stories, and - most importantly- hearts that had been captured by the people of El Salvador. After sharing their experiences with us, the congregation at Heartland voted to step into a long-term relationship with El Tablon, focusing primarily on building relationships and attending to the three needs that the people of El Tablon had identified as their greatest needs: Potable water, education, and economic development. That relationship is still going strong- Woohoo!

Later, when Rev. Bob Cook told us about a young girl named Milagro who was in need of corrective surgery on her achilles tendons, Joyce opened up her home to Millie and her mother Haydee. After some arrangements were made with the Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, Haydee and Millie came to the US and lived with Joyce and her husband Jim and their daughter Alexis for three months, while Millie underwent surgery and rehabilitation. Since that time, Joyce and Haydee have managed to keep in touch, although neither of them speaks the other's language. Millie, on the other hand, has become so adept at English that we employ her whenever we are in ES now as our translator. Through Millie, Joyce and Haydee have stayed close over the 8 years since Haydee and Millie were here.

Heydee has a Papuseria ("Papuseria Millie"), which is a kiosk where she makes and sells papusas. Not everyone loves papusas, but I do- they are like stuffed tortillas (cheese, meat, you name it), usually served with some cabbage and red sauce, which is kind of like salsa, but not so spicy. Haydee makes them well and she loves to have us over so she can show us how to make them (and feed us about 3 times more than we ought to eat.) Whenever we visit El Salvador, one thing we like to do on Market day is make a beeline for Papuseria Millie and say hello.

This time, Joyce was with us and Haydee did not know it. It was an emotional trip for Joyce all around. Not only does she have one of the softest hearts that God ever made, she was returning for the first time since that initial trip 10 years ago. Things that had changed brought tears to her eyes; things that had not changed brought tears to her eyes. Since our reflection times were centered around the theme of "tears," Joyce was our "case in point" all week long.

Haydee saw us, greeted us warmly, smiling and hugging and doing all the things that she always does when we see her. It took her a few seconds to realize that Joyce was standing right there. For years now, she always asks me "Como esta Joyce and Jim?" But now, she looked dazed and confused for a moment, then burst out into tears and laughing and hugging Joyce and accusing us of trying to give her a heart attack, and starting it all over again. Seriously, it was the longest, most joyful and drawn out greeting that I've ever witnessed in person. "Joyce, Joyce, Joyce is here!"

Tears. Who can fathom them? Tears of sorrow; tears of joy. Tears mark that wonderful conjunction between the body and the soul, where broken or dancing hearts express themselves through the secretion of our eyes. Of all of the things we experienced in the market that day, Joyce's and Haydee's tears were the gifts most precious.

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