“First” Hotdogs

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

Following the first church service I attended in El Canon, the team I was with from my church began to prepare for a community hotdog lunch, a tradition the team had started the year before. I would later learn that the “hotdog lunch service” was the most well attended service of the year at this small church in a forgotten canyon on the outskirts of Managua.

A line of hungry people is a great place to study the human condition. No matter the age group, you can almost always find the full spectrum of character traits- patience, greed, thankfulness, frustration, and selfishness to name a few. Our particular line contained people from every age group, family structure, and, of course, character make-up. One might say it was an anthropologist’s dream.

When the line began to move and we started serving hotdogs to what appeared to be a very hungry group of people, something interesting began to develop. Instead of scarfing the hotdogs down like I typically do when I am hungry, many of the people wrapped them up with whatever they could find so that they could take them home. This also lead to many “repeat customers” in the line seeking their “first” hotdog. Some of the people were a little more strategic, sending their kids instead going through the line again personally. I am not sure if you have ever tried to say no to a small child staring up at you with open hands, but it is really hard, if not impossible. Let’s just say many kids ended up with three or four “first” hotdogs.

However, even more than the children, one person sticks out in my mind more than anyone else, Gladys. Gladys, probably in her late sixties but with the appearance of someone in their eighties due to the effects of poverty, is the definition of a little old lady. “Towering” at what can be no more than 4′ 10″, Gladys always came to church with more barrettes in her hair than what seems humanly possible, and a dress with more pockets than what can be counted. Despite her small stature, Gladys is very bold and a go-getter. This would be demonstrated many times over the years that followed, but probably never more than at the hotdog lunch.

The lesson Gladys taught me that day influence me even today. More on that next time.

– James Belt

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