This was originally sent in early December 2010. It has a nice summary of some of the things the amazing Erma accomplishes.
It is just past 6:00 this morning and I am waiting for Abram to get up. There is no sun yet and the ocean fog hangs heavy over our compound – different, as the sun is usually shining when we get up.
Last week he went to the San Telmo outreach, where we usually feed about 200 kids and adults each week- to help with the Christmas gift and food distribution. The next day, I accompaned him and others on another outreach to a community in the hills beyond San Quintin to what is known as the “Cardboard Church”, and indeed, it is a structure made of pallets and covered with cardboard. The roof is made of clear plastic sheeting stretched over
the area, and strapped down with some black plastic irrigation tape. Some crudely made seats line the walls over the dirt floors and quickly the area fills to capacity when they hear the music of Arturo’s guitar and our singing – Mexicans love to sing. Of course, everything is in Spanish and Abram & I struggle to understand it all most of the time but we do provide support as needed occasionally.
After the song worship, the adults remain to hear a short testimonial from Arturo, while the kids are asked to move to a similar adjoining structure. Here cardboard has been laid out over the dirt floor and the kids find a spot on which to sit. Erma begins her flannelgraph lesson while a Mexican lady reads the Bible lesson. After the verse is recited, the kids are given a glass of milk with a spoonful of peanut butter in it. The toys (mostly stuffed animals) and food bags are distributed and the mothers urge their children to hurry along and everyone leaves.There are no street lights and they leave in all directions as night falls very quickly near the ocean.
What I have just written describes our routine outreaches with some variation, depending on the village needs. For example, one of the outreaches (on Sat & Sun) works with crippled children and horses A local family has invited us to bring these kids to their “ranch” for ‘horse therapy’. Staff and the owners of the horses, volunteer to bring some joy & mobility to these kids who are otherwise confined to their wheelchairs for most of their day.
It takes a lot of compassion and dedication to do this work and although I do not often help out in these outreaches, I marvel at Erma for the work she has done here for the past 20+ years. She finds the poorest of the poor here in what is known as the San Quintin Valley and helps them – they aren’t only poor but often desitute (hungry, dirty, crippled, blind or handicapped in some other way). It takes a very special person who can see beyond all of the dirt and poverty to respond to all of these pressing needs. All of this she does with limited resources – financial and willing hand to help with the work. It is quite extraordinary when you know that Erma is 82 years old,
stands under 5 ft. tall and weighs under 100 lbs. Her vitality and energy is something to behold as she moves quickly and purposefully in whatever she does, in spite of her 82 years. One day, I foolishly remiinded Erma that we were “retired folk” to which she promptly responded, “no we are not retired, we are “refired” there is too much work to do.” She is truly amazing and inspires the rest of us to do what we do and we carry on responding to the ever increasing needs.
Tomorrow, we will roast three turkeys for the seniors’ annual Christmas dinner. We will feed 100+ seniors and each person will leave with a Christmas bag of personal items (tooth brush, comb, gloves, hat, etc). and a full stomach. On Christmas Eve we will go to a Mens’ Rehab Centre (about 80 men – I’ve been knitting touques for them) and they will be fed. We will come home and do a “Chinese” gift exchange with some of Erma’s staff and others living in the compound at the time and we will pretend that we are “family”.
We will share our Christmas Day turkey with about 20 (last count) others so I’ll be cooking another turkey and we will host the dinner at the house in our compound. I will miss having my family here – and their help.
Of course, we will miss our family but there will be much work to do – it will keep us busy and by the end of the day, we will welcome our bed. On New Years Day, we will host another dinner so there will be more food to buy and prepare. Quite a number of people will pass through our door (mostly Mexican) and in this way, the old year 2010 will end and we will usher in the New Year 2011. We miss you and love you and look forward to seeing you all.
Abram & Emily