I Rocked Her Like a Baby… and He Held me.

June 9, 2013

I sat on the edge of the bed, looking out the window at the rain falling on a herd of cows eating that most super green Alabama grass…and I held her. 7 years old. I’ve always joked that she’s the Omega of the bunch. I’m the Alpha, the eldest. She’s the last of the 7 siblings. And I’ve never held her like this, cradled in my arms like if she was from my own womb. I try to turn her face towards me but she’s hiding her eyes, digging her snotty nose on my shoulder.

sara lydia

Continue reading I Rocked Her Like a Baby… and He Held me.

Waste – Month 7 of #7FN

So I was retelling my story about my 10 days in a refugee camp in an undisclosed location of Algeria, working & serving with Saharawi refugees in November 2009 and I caught myself saying, “I have never appreciated water more after not bathing for 10 days, getting Montezuma’s revenge in the middle of that dry desert, and not having running water to brush my teeth or even wash my hands.” I “sponged-bathed” with baby wipes that a sweet old lady from church gifted me (500 well used wipes my friends). I bought my own bottled water and one lasted me a whole day. Carefully counting every drop to brush my teeth and stay hydrated. Antibacterial gel was all used up, but it still didn’t keep me from getting a massive gastroenteritis where I lost 5 pounds (that was the only plus).

As I was retelling my story to a coworker, the storage areas of my mind reminded me of something, “Have you forgotten Tuesdays and Fridays in Nicaragua?” and I felt a little snobby about the tap on my shoulder. Oh yeah! I lived in Nicaragua from 1978-1996. How could I forget? Has living in this comfortable good ol’ US of A give me amnesia?

Water. In a communist country. Was liquid gold.

Life in a communist country. Rationing was an everyday staple.

Rationing. Every Tuesday & Friday. Scheduled. No water all day.

The night before. The drill. Mom sternly asking, “Have you filled your bucket yet with water or do you not want to bathe tomorrow?

Filling the tall bucket up to the rim. Next morning that sitting water had turned. C.O.L.D.

The guilt trips on TV ads by the government, “when you brush your teeth, turn the faucet off, IF YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO HAVE WATER IN THE FUTURE.”

Oh how could I forget. Snobby me.

Rationing of Food.

I may not take my Rationing Card to the government store every week anymore. There they knew exactly how many people lived in your home, and that’s how they rationed your share accordingly. Your set share of beans, rice, sugar, toilet paper (maybe), milk and soap. Half a bar of soap per person. Yes. They would cut the bar in half if you had an odd number of folk in your house. It was FREE. But they told you how much you could get. The milk? you couldn’t trust. At home we boiled it and if it curdled, it was a sign that it had expired & we had to chunk it, if not, we could drink it (after it cooled down of course). My dad got tired of this boiling & chunking and bought a cow. Seriously. Milk straight from the cow. I wanted. To. DIE. But my dad has never liked anyone telling him what to do or not to do when it comes to basic human rights, right? My dad…oh, he’s another story.

Back to the Water. We couldn’t trust it either. Though it flowed freely from the faucet, my mom would fill up a pot. EVERY. NIGHT. and boil it on the stove to kill all germs & bacteria. Cooled over night. Next morning I had to fill a pitcher and put it in the fridge. Hey! At least we had a fridge to cool our drinking water. The water we drank or used for cooking had to be boiled to be sterilized. If not, here come the purging pills…you know…to purge you of parasites. UGH. How could I forget? 18 years of my brain cannot be forgotten.

So Waste Month is not at all alien for me. I fear that my PTSD will return. I’ve since always turned off the water when I brush my teeth or lather with soap in the shower. I’ve been known at other people’s houses to reach for the kitchen sink faucet to turn it off, if the host leaves it on and walks away. I get a nervous tick in my eye when that happens. They probably think I’m weird. The aquifers are only getting older and emptier people!! There are NO new aquifers growing underground! (Go google “aquifer” if you don’t know what I just said) Some say the next world war will be over Water. So maybe my communist background was right, huh? If I want my grandchildren to have water, I should ration it now so they can see it in the future.

So there you go! A whole month of fasting from Media and not blogging and one little thought triggered some childhood memories I wanted to write down so as not to forget where I’ve come from. My son will never understand how blessed he is to live in this privileged country where water flows freely and he can shower whenever he can. Oh. But he’s half-Nicaraguan, so believe me. He WILL learn with this momma. I have tons of guilt trip one-liners stored in my mind from my mom about why I should eat all the food on my plate, turn off the water, and be grateful for a backpack full of books on my back… like the mom in Big Fat Greek Wedding! Haha.

So many gifts. So much Grace. Just stop and look around.

Live Mindfully. Live Communally. Live Gratefully.

Here we go this crazy group of women at Fellowship North… Month #7 is June, being conscious of Waste. Thanks Jen Hatmaker.

~Ines

A Dios sea la gloria!

That’s what my Nicaraguan granma would say if she was alive, “To God be the glory, mi’hijita”, if she were to read the incredible humbling honor my brother Rudy Carrasco gave me in graciously including me in his list of 14 Latina Christians in America to Know. When I read this story & all that lives between the lines, I stopped & meditated on 2 things:

I humbly think back to how God spared me and my brother from getting on the Tan Sahsa Airlines Boeing 727 plane, on that ill-fated Saturday morning, October 21, 1989. The plane going from Managua, Nicaragua to the USA, was supposed to stop in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The fact that God, who is great in mercy, stopped us from getting on that flight that my mother got on, is just as miraculous as the fact that you are reading my words and you have air to breathe. JUST. AS. MIRACULOUS. My mother immediately went to heaven when that plane crashed, and according to survivor, Vivian Pellas, who told me face to face, “The last thing your mother thought about was you.” I believe her now that I’m a mother to a son. I believe I was the last thought in her mind.

The second thing I think back to, is what I wrote Rudy as a thank-you for thinking of ordinary Latina women who are trying to make a difference in the Kingdom of God. Twice a minority can be something to overcome. This is what I wrote to him. Raw. When I hit send, I thought, “Now, why did I just do that? This guy is going to think I’m crazy!” But it’s my story. Where I come from, we’re story-tellers. We tell stories that are testimonial in nature. We tell stories to remember what God has done. We gain strength from what we’ve had to overcome.

Dear brother,

Reading your e-mail that my husband Rob forwarded to me brings tears to my eyes. To have a brother like you stand with, alongside, affirm, and empower us Latinas followers of Jesus doing normal, routine, daily life, as well as advancing God’s Kingdom on earth, is like a warm fire on a cold day.

I know how hard it is to be twice a minority – Latina and woman in the USA. Yet thankfully, I had a very strong Nicaraguan father who always told me I should care less about what men/women thought about me, and tremble more at disobeying God. That it didn’t matter that I had a uterus, the command to “go and make disciples” is for ALL. So he told me, “Woman, speak!” Speak of God of course, not my own thoughts. But the walls have always been there, whether in Nicaragua, Texas, or Arkansas where I have lived & served in ministry. The first time I translated a sermon for a Southern Baptist missionary in Managua, Nicaragua, I was 14 yrs old, and you can imagine this pastor did NOT want me, a woman and teenager, to interpret for him. But my dad said, “She’s the best we got, she knows better English than me, you’re just going to have to deal with it.” And 20 people came to Christ that hot morning inside a Nicaraguan wooden church with no air conditioner, and no fans, and the little abuelitas were saying “amen, gloria, aleluya” at the teaching from Philippians “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death.” That was the first time I understood Holy Spirit power, because I was throwing up in the bathroom 15 mins before I went up to the pulpit, where God forbid a woman stood with pants on and not a skirt…..

Do you smell what I’m stepping in?

A Dios sea la gloria,

~Ines Velasquez-McBryde