I Hope So

This past weekend we had the opportunity to attend our friend Marco’s birthday party.  About the time we moved into our apartment complex Marco began a new job as one of the security guards at the front gate of the complex.  Over time we got to know him as we entered and exited the complex and took our dog for walks.  Marco does not speak English and our Spanish is still very limited, but he became especially fond of Eli who always said “hi” and “bye” to him as we went by the gates. 

A couple of months ago the apartment complex switched security companies and all of the guards were replaced (apparently this happens from time to time).  On his last day of work Marco made sure to come and trade contact information with us so that we could keep in touch.  A couple of weeks later we had Marco and his college-aged son, Obed, over for a couple of hours to visit and get to know them better.  Obed is the first in the family to attend college and speaks fairly decent English, so we were able to get to know a little bit more about Marco and his family.  After our visit we continued to keep in touch and Obed called again a couple of weeks ago to invite us to Marco’s birthday party.

Eli with Marco's daughter and several of the children at the party.
We gladly accepted the invitation and this past weekend drove up into the mountains just outside the city to their home for the party.  We entered the plywood gate to their front patio and walked down concrete stairs onto to concrete floor of their kitchen and master bedroom/dining room/living room.  We soon discovered that they had no running water and that the toilet was to be flushed with a bucket of water.  Obed apologized for their poor state, but I couldn’t help but focus on the happy and welcoming nature of this sweet family.    

We met Marco’s wife, their five children and their spouses/significant others, their grandchildren, and basically the entire extended family.  The event included us (the token gringos) and around 50 family members.  They all told us how handsome our guerro (blonde) son is as they petted his head and remarked often about my blue eyes.  We certainly stood out as being different, but were not treated as anything but family.

We were served ceviche and a seafood stew full of whole crabs, shrimp, clams, mussels, and large chunks of fish.  This was not the kind of meal that the average American would consider affordable to feed to such a large crowd, but nonetheless heaping portions were placed in front of us.  They were incredibly generous and made sure to check on us throughout the evening and help take care of Eli.  It was a beautiful sight to see him play among Marco’s grandchildren and great nieces and nephews.

It was a wonderful evening of celebrating with new friends, but also a time to reflect on all that we are blessed with – yes, there are the items that we are able to purchase, but more importantly there is the gift of family.

Dave asked me at one point during the evening “Could we be as happy as them living like this?”

All I could say was “I hope so.”  I hope my happiness is not counted in monetary value.


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