Wednesday, December 21, 2005


My day starts out by falling out of bed. For some reason, my knee doesn’t like to work for about an hour after I get up and moving. So I limp around my house chores, which today means dragging bags downstairs to take to Ben’s house, which I’m taking over as he’s going to be gone for most of the next three months. I put 25 or 30 pounds of books and clothes in my backpack and carry a huge laundry bag full of junk over to Manguinhos. By the time I arrive, still working out the limp, I am soaked. It’s not that hot yet, but it’s so very humid every step is like walking into a steam room. At Ben’s, I empty my bag and then fill it with old clothes and shoes the Servant Team boys left. We’re going to take the street kids to see a movie tonight, and I don’t want to have to make another trip back here to get this stuff. Then I take my only slightly lessened load out to the bus stop and make a visit to Dona Dora. She’s gone (again), so after giving out some of the Peruvian candy I brought back, I sit on the couch and let Julia and Artur “comb” my hair and pretend to put makeup on me and basically destroy my appearance. It’s fun! Renan, who has always been one of my favorite kids there, looks at me with his liquid brown eyes and says “Are you married yet?” I laugh and say no, wanting to know why he’s asking. “You said you were thinking about it the last time you talked to me...” Hmmm. Perceptive child. I think what I said was that I had a boyfriend, but still, who knows. We’re just chatting, I’m commenting about moving, and he asks, “When you get married, if Dona Dora says yes, can I come and stay with you all the time?” Wow. Wouldn’t I love to adopt this kid. My heart did a kind of triple-flip when he asked me...the first time, and the second time, and the third time. I wonder what Junior would say!

Leaving Dona Dora’s, I pick up the mail. No packages for me, but the post office guy asks about Ben and Rich and Rebecca get two. Grr. What are they doing with my Christmas presents? I hop on the bus back to Jacarezinho, which is super slow, and gives me just enough time at home to take shower number 2, change, pack up clothes for Lapa, and jump on a bus. When we show up, there are only a couple of guys there, but by the end, we’ve got eleven kids, more or less dressed, with “new” shoes or shirts or shorts that they deem respectable enough to go out in. Only one kid tries to come huffing, and he throws the bottle away the minute I say something to him. We have a blast. They share popcorn, some soda (I can’t do math and woefully underestimate the number of bottles and straws needed but thankfully, no one complains), and laugh, talk, and whistle at al(most)l the appropriate times. Our two rows actually clap at the end of the movie! When it’s over, almost everyone thanks us. Wow. These kids have changed.

It’s also a sad night, finding out that yesterday our friend Reverton was murdered. Assassinated, murdered, accidentally shot: what is the difference? The version that seems to be floating around is that some police stopped him at his house because they thought he had money or was selling drugs, robbed him, and then he either angered them with something he said or tried to run away. They shot him. Took every penny out of his wallet but left his blood-soaked ID.

Reverton wasn’t rich. He was just a vain kid with a good heart who liked to dress nice. He’d spend his money on clothes that looked different, a little classier, maybe a gold chain. He was off the streets, living with his pregnant wife, in a favela far, far from Lapa. There were some women down there, friends of the family or relatives, who were letting people know who to call about the funeral. It will be either tomorrow or Friday. We’ll go if we can. I don’t know how many more of these I can take. It just makes me sick to my stomach, and yet I can’t cry like I want to. I can only curse and scream and try to breathe normally. Try not to hate every uniform that walks by. Try not to wonder why I’m living here, exposing myself to this senseless death and suffering. I need to pray, but right now it’s not so much in words and more of just a “God, God, God.”

It’s Christmas. Jesus, we could certainly use your coming again...

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