64: Mango Mud Blessings

64: Mango Mud Blessings

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings

Mango Mud Blessings

If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.
~Loran Eisley

Sometimes the simple pleasures of life are so simple that I take them for granted. Things that I’ve come to consider as my right, instead of a blessing. I realized this after my first trip to Honduras. My dear friend, who serves there as a humanitarian and missionary, had invited me to speak at a women’s conference she was putting together.

The night before I was to fly out, I finished packing and decided a warm bath would help calm my excited nerves and help me sleep. I twisted the hot water handle on the tub and waited … and waited … and waited. I drummed my fingers against the faux marble and grumbled, “For crying out loud, already. Let’s have some warm water!”

It took forever for the hot water to work its way through the pipes to the back of the house. Well, maybe not forever, but it sure seemed that way. Besides, I didn’t have any time to spare. My alarm was set to four o’clock. I had to get some sleep. Needless to say, the bath wasn’t relaxing. I got in, bathed, and got right out.

The next afternoon I arrived in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. It was so good to see my friend and her husband. On the five-hour drive to their home in Yamaranguila, I took in the beautiful countryside. So lush and green. A lot like the hills of my northwest Arkansas home, except for the occasional banana trees and pineapple groves.

After the conference, my friend took me to meet some of the families she and her husband had come to know and love. Thankfully, she acted as my interpreter while we visited. The people I met lived in abject poverty. They lived in ten by ten stick-and-mud houses and slept on dirt floors. The women cooked outside on stoves fashioned from stacked concrete blocks topped with old steel barrel lids that served as the cooking surface. Still, even in these awful conditions, everyone I met had a smile on their face. They were so gracious and almost always insisted we stay for coffee.

On our way to one home we passed the mother and daughter-in-law who lived there. They were kneeling beside a pond that was covered with green slime. One woman pushed the scum back with a stick while the other dipped the water into a bucket. I shot a prayer toward the heavens, “Dear Lord, Please don’t let them offer coffee.”

They followed us to their house and invited us inside. While we chatted, chickens walked in, cocked their heads as if to check out the two pale strangers, then sauntered out. A cat sat in the window opening watching. However, he was so emaciated that none of the birds had anything to worry about.

Children played outside in the dust. They sounded just like my children when they were small. One little girl ran inside. She held a mango in each hand. The one in her left hand was half eaten. Juice had mingled with the dirt on her skin and small rivulets of mango-mud ran down her wrist.

This little brown-eyed beauty held out her right hand and offered me the other mango, which I gladly accepted. Her eyes danced and joy spread into a smile. As she scratched her lice-filled hair, I remember thinking, “She has no idea she is poor.”

When it was time to leave we walked outside and I noticed a muddy stream that ran beside their home. My friend pointed at it and said in English, “That is where they bathe. It is also where the animals drink and defecate.” I have to say that was the most sobering time in my life.

The evening I returned home I went into my pristine bathroom and twisted the hot water handle on the tub. Only this time instead of drumming my fingers against the faux marble, I thought of that precious little girl covered in mango-mud. Her bath would consist of splashing in the cold, dirty, water in the creek. No soap, no bubbles.

I eased into my tub filled with warm, drinking-quality water and perfumed with lavender oil. While soaking, I mused on this simple pleasure. Clean water wasn’t my right, it was a blessing. A blessing I was now determined to share with others.

~Linda Apple

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