In the heat of the afternoon I walked over to some of my dear neighbors this afternoon with a small bag of sugar and a bottle of fun nail polish. One of my friends had complimented my toe nails last week and I told her I'd bring it over and paint their nails one day soon. Today was the day. Before we got around to painting our nails however, babies needed to be held, coffee beans needed to be roasted, kudra (greens) needed to be plucked from their stems and the pigs needed to be constantly "shooed" away. Please look closely at the picture above and you can see everything I've mentioned.
Little Rahab could hardly contain her excitement when she first laid eyes on the bottle of bright pink nail polish so I did her nails first - little fingers and tiny toes. Thanks to the dry heat, it dried instantly and she walked around showing it off to all the older ladies.
In the shade we sat, 2 of us on a mat on the ground with 2 babies on our laps, 2 mischeivious 3-year olds and about 15 pigs, a pregnant sheep and 2 panting dogs. No joke, all these animals were crowding around us because the dogs were looking for shade and the pigs and the sheep kept trying to steal the greens we were preparing for the evening meal.
Soon the strong, gingery coffee was poured and as I waited for mine to cool a bit I got up to go paint one of my friends' toe nails. We chatted about things like sick neighbors, the prices of things in the market, and whose baby got a new tooth this week. It was lovely chatter and my heart overflowed as I painted the dry but beautiful feet of my friends. When I came home to report to Eli about my afternoon while I began fixing our dinner, I commented that somehow these wonderful ladies have accepted me and welcomed me into their "circle" of friends and though I don't always use the right Arabic word or understand what's going on around me, there is love present.
Today Simon spent most of his time on my lap. He loves playing with my necklace and pulling my hair but I can tell he knows that I love him. I've known him since the day he was brought back from the hospital. Today just before I got up to head home, he peed all over my lap. His mother, my dear friend, was mortified that he'd done that but I just stood up, brushed it off and said, "He's giving me a blessing." And what a blessing he is!
I am so thankful for afternoons like this when I can surround myself with this beautiful culture of love and community. All I can hope is that my presence with them on these hot hot afternoons are as much of an encouragement and blessing to them as it is to me!