I groggily shuffled over to the doctors’ house for my normal 6:30am coffee before hospital report – only to find the house in chaos. Thieves had come in the night breaking the lock on the backdoor and creeping into the house while the family was sleeping. The vulnerability and feelings of violation from a break-in are certainly compounded when you know the robbers were actually in the house with you while you slept. Fortunately the valuables were locked in the study, but they managed to slit the screen doors on the hanging food cabinet (it hangs from the ceiling to prevent rats from getting in) and break through the door to the pantry. All the flour, sugar, eggs, bread, cereal, and any number of miscellaneous food items were gone. We had a birthday celebration for Dr. Rudy yesterday and they stole the all leftovers from his big chocolate cake (although they left the banana cake that I had made intact – not sure if I should be happy or insulted). They emptied the sugar out of the glass sugar container. Worst of all they took all the coffee in the house. Dr. Rudy was coming in from his morning run and saw a pair of his shoes and a towel on the ground and an empty jam container, with the back door ajar. It was fortunate indeed to just lose food, and some miscellaneous items, but the feeling of insecurity lingers.
After trying to account for everything lost, and recounting everything to the police, we were left to the emptied house. Dr. Norvelle gathered everyone around and said she wanted to pray. She asked for protection from evil, for peace of heart, and some others things I didn’t quite translate fast enough to understand… and then Dr. Rudy added in at the end: “and please Lord have mercy on the robbers. Please help them not to starve. Help them to find jobs so that they can feed their families without thievery, and bless them.” Oh yeah… the robbers. I had been so upset about the missing coffee and feeling bad for the doctors that I hadn’t even thought about the people who must be desperate to break into a house just to find food. How hungry must you be to come to that point? I certainly have never experienced that hunger.
Peter (the doctors’ son) just turned 15 recently. For his birthday he asked for a nerf gun, a birthday cake,…. and a bag of rice, some beans, and cooking oil. Wait, what? I was confused when he unwrapped the huge 50 pound bag of rice. We have enough food in the house… why did Peter want more? Then, that night, all the local boys came over and Peter cooked them rice and beans. Ever since his birthday, every couple days the boys all pile into the house in the evening and cook together. Rice,beans, and sometimes they bring some fish recently caught at the river. I never thought that these skinny soccer boys I see every week might not be eating regularly, but Peter knew.
Even after 6 months here, I still do not recognize all the poverty around me. There is so much need. I plan on buying another bag of rice, and some beans to leave with Peter. At least the soccer boys will get another month or so of regular meals. Perhaps with enough food in their stomachs they will be able to concentrate in school and affect their future. Perhaps not. I don’t know how to fix the larger problem, but the reminder is good. There is always someone who could use a hand, if I could only stop focusing on my little problems long enough to see them.