Beyond the statistics

I know I may be an odd ball, but I love mornings. That’s when I do my daily devotions. That’s when I have the most energy. And since none of my doctors are on the UnoMas mailing list, I’ll tell you that I love a cup of coffee.

My usual routine is to get up, turn the coffee maker on, work out with my bungee cords, take a shower, then sit by the open door, sip my joe and watch the early morning

Last week, I told you how it was a similar morning that I encountered a different friend. But in Granada, like your hometown, these are not normal times. Hustle and bustle have been replaced by lethargy and timidity. People do not greet each other like they used to do. They don’t stop for the impromptu conversations of which we have so often mused. Instead, I watch people walk slowly, methodically, never once lifting their eyes to those who pass.

Jefferson is one such person.

I have known Jefferson for over four years. He was one of the first people I encountered here. He worked at the “American Style” breakfast place. I would splurge sometimes on a Saturday and he would be there, along with his fellow workers. Real bacon, pretty good waffles, but alas, they did not have biscuits and gravy. It was still a good start to the day.

Jefferson struggled with English. At that time I struggled with Spanish. We still communicated. He wanted classes, but he did not have the time. He worked two jobs, one in the evening and his restaurant work in the morning. We were able to practice each other’s language whenever I went to eat. We also felt a certain affinity for each other because we shared part of a name.

I saw him, last week, walking down my street. His blue mask made him barely recognizable, yet somehow I did figure out who he was. I motioned for him to come to the door. He shook his head, no. I looked at him strangely, puzzled by his reticence. I yelled that he could stay two meters away. He simply yelled, “I can’t.”

Then I heard the cough.

My heart immediately sank. My mind raced. My whole body shivered.

Was my friend sick? Did he have the dreaded virus? What were my next steps? All of these questions swarmed around my brain like the pigeons on central square when someone throws a scrap of bread.

I asked him if he had the virus. He said he didn’t know. He said he was going to the hospital. I asked if he was walking. He said yes, so I gave him cab fare. We didn’t shake hands. We didn’t hug. I felt so helpless.

I asked him if he would let me know when he had results. He hasn’t, as of yet.

I have a few friends in the U.S. who I know have or have had the virus. But this was more personal. This was a real face. This was a friend I see often. This was in my backyard, or front street, to be more accurate.

I have been reporting to you every week that official cases are low. As of today, there have been under 10 deaths, officially. But I can’t help but believe that this is not the case. I can’t help but believe that there are more. But for now, that didn’t matter. What was important was that my friend here had a cough.

One of the problems of our information overloaded society is that sometimes we forget the faces behind the statistics. I hope this hasn’t happened to you. For every sick person, there is a face. For every statistic there is a soul.

I was reminded of that this week. It made me remember that the work we do here will ripple throughout time. Not because we are so great or glorious or generous but because we share love. No matter what becomes of any one of us, love is eternal.

There is so much uncertainty in our world. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring any more than you know. I don’t know if my friend is sick or just contending with a few allergies. I do know, however, that we connected. I do know that he knows that he has a friend. I do know that he knows that he will be prayed for. I do know that he knows that there is hope.

I love you all very much. Thank you for the ongoing encouragement.

Dios los bendiga.

Growing up on the mission field for most of my youth, I never imagined leaving the U.S. other than to serve on short-term mission trips. But, it was on one of those ministry tours to Granada, Nicaragua, that I fell in love with the Nicaraguan people and Uno Mas Ministries began.

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