Our time in the jungle through the cloud-speckled canopied mountains netted some lasting memories: Ramiro splashing from the waterside a las caverns touristic; Boivar, quien esta gordo,making his way across the rushing rapids deep inside the caverns, gripping tight the rubber line above.  My lower half swayed freezing in the water, my legs cupped together, my headlight dancing against the stalactites as I grabbed a hold of the stout tour guide’s hand to hoist myself up onto the cavern’s huge dark boulder of a landing to the side of the roiling water.

Now there’s a new couple here from North Carolina, about Ramiro’s age, 50ish.  We are exploring a neat section de la Mitad del Mundo.

The family of Yartiza, the Villafuerte family I believe, suffered a tragedy recently.  One of their sons (I’m told it is a very large family) was working in a textile mill making clothes.  Apparently, he must’ve been too fastidious (as the general pace down her seems to be) or too careless, or perhaps it was merely a horrible fluke, for his hands, I’m told through Pastor Ramiro’s bulging  dark brown eyes and deeply concerned crumbled cookie of a face (he seems to love to tell about horrible accidents — well, not love — but he get’s really excited, and apparently there are many accidents in Ecuador) were punctured by the sowing machine and then rolled and flattened by the concrete cylinder at la fabric (factory).

I prayed for him and his family.

I told Yaritza so.

She is the nineteen year old student of mine with bushy eyebrows and sharp features.  If she were say in California, with some priming and prepping, she probably would make for a fine model, with her crisp jawline and high cheekbones and clear complexion. The only thing that reminds you she is an Ecuadorian peasant are the eyebrows — but that can be quickly remedied.  Though for lovely Yaritza, who usually wears jeans or a colorful pair of spandex pants, a modest blouse or long-sleeved shirt of some kind and who scolds her younger sister in class for not paying attention, she holds no illusions about escaping what she was born into.  I say: “Collegio?  Universidad in Estados Unidos?”  She smiles and looks down and shakes her head.  She is the oldest daughter of a family of “muchas personas” she tells me, and her family needs her to tend after her younger siblings and buy the groceries and do the chores — so she indicates as much.

In church on Sunday, I see her in the back as I come in.  She’s standing next to her fifteen year old sister Joselyn whose Facebook request, so I’ve told her, I will accept after the class is over.  They are both dressed in bright colors of pink and orange sashayed across them as they sway side to side and clap to the rhythm of the Christian music.  Pastor Ramiro works the computer in the little glassed in box of a control center in the corner, projecting the right lyrics at the right times — hugely  impaled against the white church wall beside the alter up front.

The only thing missing is the guitarist, the young worker whose paralyzed, mutilated hands now was laid up in the hospital.

Later on Ramiro leaned in over the kitchen table and told me with great fervor: “God is moving his fingers.”

And there’s hope again.

To wit, I never referred to these lovely people as “peasants” until I heard my dad say it over Skype, briefly, innocuously.  As the roosters seem to screech from all sides from about four AM to four pm I cannot deny that this is indeed a place of peasants in every modern and most ancient senses of the word.  But to be part of a fellowship, a brother or sisterhood, if you will, is quite something.  The North Carolinan missionary and ex-marine I remember prayed for our “fellowship” with each other and with the Lord — with the Lord through each other and vice versa.  And he gave thanksgiving as we do before every meal.  How graceful.    So what if his wife was a little annoying.  I wonder which Americans will come next?


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