Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Do You Have The Time?

The Knott's May Update

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Do You Have The Time?

…continued from Felipe

"Ahorrraaaaa"... Felipe's Grandmother exclaimed softly. She had just finished telling how the monthly village meeting was being held in Sikimirani, a 6-8 hour walk over the mountains from her house. This word "Ahora," said with a particular rising and falling inflection is best translated, "Now what?!"

She was worried that on finding Felipe's parents, Guillermo and Alicia, away, I would turn and leave. "They should be back tomorrow at noon," she offered hopefully.

"I'll wait," I said. I really had no other option. My plans for the month of May were built around this trip. It was a cold, foggy Wednesday evening with a light drizzle falling. There was nothing to do but sit down on Grandma's porch and wait. 

Thursday dawned bright and clear. We were sure that, getting an early start like the country folk do, Guillermo and Alicia would show up by 2pm at the latest. That would still leave us time, traveling non-stop, to get Felipe checked in for surgery before the deadline.

Throughout the morning I noticed that we were all casting anxious glances at the pass, studying the thin thread of a trail for any sign of life. By afternoon, fog rolled into the valley cutting off our view. Supper that evening was somber. Even with the fog clearing to reveal a full moon, it was doubtful that Felipe's parents would choose to walk over the pass at night. We needed a new plan. I decided that if they didn't arrive during the night, I would hike out to the jeep Friday morning to call the doctors.

Its pitch black when I awake to the sound of hurried footsteps approaching my hut. "Boof-aaaaarrrhhh," the door bellows as someone ducks through the 4 foot opening. I poke my head out from the heavy woolen blankets, squinting in the blinding glare of a flashlight. "Have they arrived?" I ask, trying to collect my wits.  Good news must be the reason for this sudden entrance.

"Noooo…." Comes the worried response from behind the flashlight. "I've been up since 3:30….ahorrraaaaa?" Apparently this should explain everything. Before I can respond Grandma is gone, doubtless to peel potatoes for breakfast.

When the dawn starts to show through the single window opening in my hut, I climb out of bed and slip my feet into wet shoes. Grabbing my pack, I swing by the kitchen hut for tea. A plate of ground wheat and brimming bowls of potato soup are waiting for me. Before I'm allowed to leave, Grandma fills my pack with several pounds of sweet oca root, "for your wife." Grandpa, thinking that seems stingy, adds another generous quantity, despite my mild protest.

The sun is just starting to gild the highest ridges as I hike back toward where I parked Samson. Climbing the far ridge past scattered thatch-roof huts, I meet other villagers shearing sheep and digging potatoes. They tell me that Alicia and Guillermo knew I was coming on Wednesday and will certainly show up today.

The news from the doctors is good too. We have until Monday to arrive in Santa Cruz. With hopes high, I hike the 3 miles back to the Grandparents house. After a brief huddle, the consensus is that I should cross the pass toward Sikimirani in an attempt to find the long overdue pair. 

"The answer is negative," Guillermo states calmly.  The words cut deeper than the cold wind blowing across the ridgetop. Alicia's eyes are big but she says nothing. How I wish I could read her mind right now. I don't know what has gone wrong. Finding myself staring blankly at the thatched huts far below, I look over at Guillermo; he too has a fixed expression. He picks up pebbles one by one, tossing them down the path.

On the trail down from the pass I lag behind hoping the couple will talk things over. I can't believe what is happening. After months of planning and the pre-op visit to Cochabamba, are they really saying no? No to a free surgery which they could never hope to pay for themselves?

When I join the family on the grass by their house everyone is chattering in Aymara. The sun slips lower and a heavy fog rolls over the mountainside wrapping us in its damp embrace. Hoping that Grandma's influence will have changed things, I broach the topic again. 

Guillermo explains about his 150 sheep that need pasturing, how he needs to dig potatoes and how there is an important hut raising in two weeks.

"I'll wait another day so you can dig potatoes," I offer, "and the doctors have promised to have you home in two weeks." I remind them that this trip could have a large impact on Felipe's future.

"I don't think Felipe really needs palate surgery," Guillermo counters. "He's eating well and I'm sure he'll learn to talk." After a long pause he continues, "We just don't have time to go with you…the answer is negative." 


During the long trip home, I was struck with the spiritual parallels this experience could have in my own life. Am I like the guests in Jesus' Luke 14 parable? They were too occupied with everyday business to accept the Master's invitation. Am I letting the temporary, fleeting things of this world keep me from the greatest Gift this Universe has ever seen?

Like the trip we had planned for Felipe's family, but on an infinite scale, everything is paid for and ready. Will we lay claim to our eternal inheritance as children of God? Will we accept the invitation? Do I……do you, dear reader, "have" the time?

DJ, Jodi & Hadassah
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