I’m sitting on the balcony of the Kaye’s house in Granada, Nicaragua. I’ve got the headphones on for a reason as I type this blog.
It’s been a week of celebrating the Virgin Mary here and tonight is the “Noche de Gritaria” – the Night of Shouting. Apparently they stay up all night here carousing on her behalf. There is an outdoor party of some scale going on a few houses away and some guy is yelling into the sound system. I think he’s yelling prayers to Mary.
Firecrackers and cherry bombs periodically split the night air. A marching band is playing somewhere. Sirens, bells and whistles punctuate the festivities. A parade of revelers is carrying a statue of Mary up and down Granada’s streets. Some are devout, while many are just happy for an excuse to take in more of the local rum. This place likes to drink, and they do so with reason.
It reminds me of the lyric from Hotel California, “some drink to remember, some drink to forget.” They’ve got a lot to forget here. Life isn’t easy.
Earlier today we drove out to the dump. Mario, one of our coworkers, runs a ministry there. Smoke rises from trash piled in heaps at the base of lush green mountain. As we pulled up, someone was digging through the trash with a stick, surrounded by smoke. It looked surreal, like a scene out of “Slumdog Millionaire.”
I talked to Rodolfo, the oldest man working the dump. “I’ve been here 18 years. My wife and I have raised our nine children here,” he said.
“Do you make a good living?” I asked.
“We used to. I used to make $75 a week. But in the last three years it’s gotten harder and now I make just $3 a day.”
Rodolfo showed me his shoes. They’re falling apart. When Mario gave him a new pair of boots, he was overjoyed.
How do you feed a family of nine kids on $3/day? How do you drum up the hope your wife needs to accompany you out to the garbage dump one more day? That’s a lot of darkness to live through. For too many, hope is a long way off – they’ve concluded that it’s all over but the shouting.
Those of us who have our cups running over with life’s abundance who come to places like this inevitably receive a large dose of perspective. We see how much we’ve got, how blessed we are, and we come away wanting to share more. I figure we’ve got the abundance for a reason – it’s to bring hope to guys like Rodolfo. You may be looking for hope this Christmas season, but you may also have comparatively more of it than you realize.