Tears came to her eyes. I had just asked Alejandra* in my limited Spanish, “Dónde está bebé?” The question seemed to crush her spirit like a giant vice squeezing every ounce of joy she had mustered. Pain and sorrow and heartache flowed from her facial expression. She spoke quietly in Spanish to my interpreter. Oh I wish I could remember the interpreter’s name. But his name escapes me right now. I do remember his words stated very bluntly to me and in plain English. “The baby died.”
“Put that phone down, Mama. Your food is getting cold. What are you? Twelve-years-old?”
I glanced up from my phone and noticed our server holding a coffee pot and flashing a rosy-cheeked smile. Apparently, she had just called me out on my phone usage while dining in her café.
I gave her one of my taken aback “I-can’t-believe-you-just-said-that” looks.
First off, I have never had anyone call me ‘Mama’ other than the person who is supposed to call me Mama and he calls me Mom.
Once our server caught on that she might have offended me, she said, “Oh, I say that all the time to my best friends. I just don’t want your food to get cold.”
My Compassion sponsor trip to Veracruz, Mexico in January* opened my eyes to something that I hadn’t ever given much thought to. You don’t need a Princess cruise, or an iPhone or iPad to be happy. You actually don’t even need a coffeemaker. Naturally, you do need coffee to know true happiness, but you can cook coffee in a pot over an open fire. I learned that people can have chickens meandering through their small house made of cardboard and plywood and they will treat you with the warmest smiles and most affable hospitality you’ve ever known. The coffee served won’t taste like the fresh brew you’re familiar with, but that’s okay. It’s prepared for you with more love and attention than any Starbucks barista could ever hope to offer.
Manuel thought I was a man. He thought this from the time I became his sponsor eight years ago. His mother, Alma Rosa, explained over lunch when we met in Veracruz last week. She told our interpreter Aaron that, in their mind, the name ‘Bronwyn’ is a man’s name. Compassion International, the ministry that connects sponsors with children in poverty, had sent me a letter in the beginning of my sponsorship asking me to not send pictures of my house or car or any picture displaying the luxury of my American life.
“That trip changed me,” I said to Jerry this morning, referring to my recent January 22-28 Mexico Sponsor Tour.
Jerry took a chug-a-lug, gulp, snort of coffee from his gargantuan Mickey cup he bought at Disneyland.
Silence took hold of the moment. Then Jerry said, “I know. I see the change in you.”
I slurped my Irish Breakfast tea loudly (ok, Jerry didn’t snort and I didn’t slurp loudly, but I want to make sure you’re paying attention and you might nod off if I don’t add drama once in a while). But I did have Irish Breakfast tea and I did take a dainty sip before I asked, “In what way do you notice that I’ve changed?”