On every bus, there are posted signs warning against various bad behaviors as well as making general exhortations regarding bus conduct and courtesy. I always wonder how exactly each driver decides which admonitions to place on his bus. This past weekend in the province of Esmeraldas, I found a particularly interesting combination. Unfortunately, I was not able to get a picture, so I'll just write out what the three signs said.
No pongas los pies en el resbaldar de los asientos.
Don't put your feet on the back of the seats.
Por favor no se limpie en las cortinas.
Please don't clean yourself on the curtains.
(I think they must mean not to wipe your hands or face on the curtains.)
E is has five brothers - four older and one younger.
I've heard of an open floor plan, but this seems a little different somehow.
The view from our bed
Below is the living room.
The kids leap around up here like monkeys. Jill and I stepped a little more cautiously.
From this side of the room, you have a clear view of the other bedroom and the bathroom.
One of our roommates - not my favorite!
The view out the back window
Where the pigs live
Making creations out of towels for entertainment between meetings on Sunday
L, the youngest, is in the foreground with Brother #4 in the back
Can you tell that Jill is getting ready for meeting?
W shows off his rabbit.
"Mind the gap!"
I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of the bathroom. It was partially open on all sides, including on top. While I was showering on Saturday night, I was joined by the cat, the kitten and the dog, all at separate times. While my first visitor, the kitten, scared the liver out of me, I soon grew accustomed to the bathroom traffic.
I don't know how hot the roof was actually, but that's just a little detail. Tin roofs abound down here. Makes it a little difficult to hear when it rains during meeting! Anyway, here's a look out the window of my bedroom this past Saturday morning in Santo Domingo.
This past Sunday, Jill and I had the privilege of having the funeral and burial services for Don Alfonso. Don Alfonso had been in an accident some ten years back that had robbed him of the use of his legs and left him in constant terrible pain. I remember being in Alfonso and Marcolfa's home for a Wednesday night Bible study on one of my trips to Ecuador before I started in this ministry work. Don Alfonso sat in his wheelchair, and the rest of us sat around the main room, some in chairs, others on the bed.
When Jill and I went to visit a few weeks ago, Don A wasn't able to join us for lunch due to his pain. He would sometimes scream with it. Other times, he would frantically claw at his head with his hands. We bought him some more pain medication at the local tiendita because he was out. We knew that wouldn't last very long, but at least it was something for the present. After that visit, Don A was able to get out to a few more Sunday morning meetings. The Wednesday Bible study continued to be in their home, so he was more often able to be in that meeting. Then, a week or two ago, he took a turn for the worse.
This past Friday when we were in San José, we stopped by the house. Many family members were gathered along with a couple of medical professionals who had come from the nearby clinic. They were trying to decide whether or not to take Don Alfonso to the hospital in Portoviejo. It would be a multi hour trip on roads that aren't in the best condition. Finally the decision was made to take him in. At least they would have done what they could. Don A didn't make a sound when they loaded him into the vehicle. Normally, that would have been about beyond his endurance, but he was past that point it seemed. We learned the next morning that the doctor at the hospital had said there was nothing they could do and had sent him back home that very night. Saturday morning before we left San José, we stopped by the house again. It was evident that the end was near.
That evening, six of the friends from San José went to Alfonso and Marcolfa's to sing hymns. A few other visitors sat respectfully by and listened. After singing a few hymns, our friends took turns praying. It was during this season of prayer that Don Alfonso took his last breath. It was a very peaceful finish for a man who had spent the last several years of his life in utter agony.
On Sunday morning, Jill talked to Sra. Marcolfa. The decision had been made that the burial would be at 5:00 that afternoon. After consulting with the responsible brother on our staff, we cancelled the 11:00 Gospel Meeting in Las Mercedes so that our friends would be able to go home after meeting, get dinner and make it to San José for a 2:00 funeral. Since no other workers were able to make it, Jill and I would have the service.
When we arrived at Alfonso and Marcolfa's, the house and the yard were full of people. Many friends and neighbors had come as well as a number of our friends from different parts of the country. The casket was in the main room of the house, where it had been all night. The service began about 2:30 or so. Since not everyone could fit inside, we got the attention of all gathered and told them that we would be singing some hymns and speaking from the Bible regarding the faith that Don Alfonso had lived by. Jill and I stood by the window so that as many people as possible would be able to hear.
After a short service, everyone sat around and waited for the gravesite to be ready for the burial. The hole had to be dug, cement poured, and I'm not sure what all else. By 4:15 or so, we were all headed across the road to the cemetery. The casket was opened at the entrance to the cemetery and more good-byes were said before don Alfonso was carried to the gravesite and lowered into the grave. Attention was requested again. Two hymns were sung, and the elder of the meeting in San José prayed before men started filling in the grave.
Now Sra. Marcolfa is alone. The past several years of her life have revolved around taking care of her husband. We think of her in this period of great adjustment. Glad for eternal hope that is ours and for the joy that we can know in the midst of sorrow because of that hope.