Lessons from a Crying Village Woman

Philippa Brooks | November 21, 2016


It was Monday morning, and I was neck deep in an ocean of to-do-lists. I was on my second cup of coffee when I heard a familiar call from the bottom of my steps: “Tao po.” In this little remote jungle village where we live—far away from the world of electric devices, answering machines, doorbells, and fully committed schedules—people still drop by front doors, literally call out “person here,” and everything stops.

That cultural call of arrival has often served as a needed check to my heart to not see the interruption, but to see the person and simply invite her in. On Monday morning, the call was from a lady in the church holding a bunch of bananas at the bottom of our stairs. I knew she needed to talk.

So I made another pot of coffee, sliced up some cake, and she quietly poured out what was on her heart. She talked over the circumstances of her life, difficulties and hardships I couldn’t imagine enduring. Her eldest son died many years ago, and then her one beloved daughter had died as a child, too. My heart broke with her as she told me how lonely she’d felt during those years. How she was sure she’d drown…


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