The Best Meal Ever
I love to feed people. My friends can tell you that! It’s my favourite thing to do. However, a couple of days ago, I helped serve the best meal of my life. There was no china, no silverware, no fine tablecloth or linen napkins.
We have been working in a village is tucked away on a narrow dirt road with pot holes larger than life. Random chickens will bring your vehicle to a sudden halt because you know that if you kill one, you’ve just ruined dinner for a family of twelve. At the bottom of a hill lies the school that we built last summer and are continuing to work on this year. As we pulled up, all the little kids were wearing their blue school uniforms. They cheered as each of our trucks pulled up – this was the goodbye party for week 1 participants and community wanted to show their appreciation. It was humbling because I was the one who wanted to cheer for them. They are the survivors. They are my heroes. All the little boys had their hair slicked down with water that lasted all of 10 minutes and the girls were decorated in all manner of hair ribbons and bows. Tonight we celebrate life and family and friends. I couldn’t help but notice the lack of elders. It was a stark reminder that life is harsh here. Old age comes to only a few. I wondered if this generation will live to see their children’s children. This is my prayer.
The kids all assembled in an impromptu choir and sang us songs with much enthusiasm. A few of them, through our interpreter, thank our team for giving them a school. By this time I am choking back tears because we all understand the valuable gift of education that has been given. There will not be any, “Do I HAVE to go to school today?” complaints from these little ones.
Then came the pig roast! The little kids were wide-eyed as they brought this roasted pig out on a pole and laid it on the table. (Apologies to all you vegetarians out there!) We brought fresh buns from the local panadaria, fresh melon, pineapple and papaya and fed the community. As I was standing behind the table serving the food, there were two guys beside me chopping up the meat with machetes – yes, real machetes – it was great! Across from me was a local Dominican woman and together we handed out plates of food. I was thinking how the barriers of race, language and culture had disappeared when we came together to serve. I watched how our students interacted with the community, not as onlookers, not as mere acquaintances but as friends. When it was time to go, the tears began to fall. As I hugged one elderly lady I could feel strength radiating from her, produced from a life where determination and extreme perseverance is necessary simply for survival. In that brief moment I felt honoured to be in that place. I couldn’t think of any place I’d rather be.