Shared life experiences

Although our childhoods took place in the same community, my age-mates in Llano Grande and I moved into adulthood in very different places. Yet, as I visited with them after all of the years had passed, I learned that we could still have more in common than we might have imagined. One of the girls who attended Sunday school with me went on to become a nurse as I also had. My friend Mercedes arranged for me to visit with her.
Late one afternoon, while in Llano Grande, Mercedes and I went to visit Soila. Her husband Nicolas was one of the first five little boys who came to the Escuala Brethren. He tried to remember the names of the other boys. They did remember the first teacher who rode his horse (or mule) over from Nayon each Monday and, on Friday, his mule and his dog showed up on their own to take him home. He was the one who inspired Mercedes to become a teacher. Nicolas came back and taught in Llano Grande at the Escuela Brethren until he retired. Soila was trained and worked as a nurse for a while with the missionary doctor and nurse. However, she left that some time ago to raise chickens. After a brief exchange in Quichua between Soila and Mercedes, Soila brought out plates with roasting ears, habas, cheese and meat. I wasn’t hungry but I ate. When we got back to the house, Mercedes thanked me for eating the food that was offered. She said that not doing so puts up a wall between the person and their guest.
One of the things I find helps to establish rapport is my sharing of my own life experiences, as a nurse and as a wife. Soila shared about time her husband was in intensive care, the fear and feeling of helplessness. I shared that my daughter Rachel advocated for me to be able to sleep at my husband Mark’s bedside when he was in the ICU battling leukemia. Soila commented, “We think with all the medical advances you have in the US, people don’t have to suffer like they do here. That is not true.” We all share the human experience of suffering. If there is anything I am getting from this experience of revisiting my childhood home, it is the universality of human experience.

Soila and Nicolas in their home
Soila and Nicolas in their home

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