September 3 Update on Minga

Sunday seems to have been a quiet day for Minga. I think she would like to go to Mass if she were strong enough, but even without her recent medical crisis, she hasn’t been able to walk from her home to church for awhile. I believe the clergy from small house churches in the Evangelical tradition that have sprung up in the village do pastoral home visits, but the Catholic priest does not, as far as I know.

I’m enjoying going back to some of the pics from the Peace Corps era in the late 1960’s, which show you more of what Minga’s life was like then. I hope you are too.

This is Ita, the youngest baby at the time, and Minga, and Rufina, who was 10. Minga’s open air kitchen is just behind. Rufina is in her school uniform — white blouse and grey skirt, no shoes.

In recent years, when I’d bring Panama visitors to her home and Minga would cook sancocho for us and serve it at her table, I’d say to my friends, “Do you know that back in the day, she had no table and chairs, no nice table cloth, no soup dishes or utensils or glasses for water? She had a few tin bowls, not even enough for everyone to have a bowl, and the kids ate with their fingers. I believe she had a couple of spoons, of which Roberto of course got one. There wasn’t even a roof over our heads — we ate outside, on a narrow strip of concrete patio in front of their house, with an overhang to protect us from the rain. The kids sat in the grass. And there was no chicken, either, for sancocho — which is chicken rice soup. She would have served you rice and beans.”

The houses you see in the background are on the other side of the Pan American Highway, which was two lanes back then and very close to our houses.

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