(Newsletter to prayer partners and family, May 4, 2003).
It was a simple plan for the day. Steve was going to Cachigalguay for his final veterinary seminar in the first series and would be away from 7:30 a.m. until about 5:30 p.m. I was to stay behind to meet a couple of scheduled repairmen, catch up on laundry, and make preparations for a volunteer medical team arriving in a few weeks. I got to the end of my to-do list and decided to walk about 5 blocks to talk to a hotel manager to get rates for the volunteer team.
I put the door key in my pocket along with a little money and a copy of my passport — you never know when you might get hit by a taxi or a bus and need some form of ID — grabbed a pad and pen and headed out. The hotel manager happily spoke English, gave me a nice tour of the facilities and promised to get back soon with a proposal. I stopped at a neighborhood deli and bought a chicken tamale for lunch and got back to the apartment smugly proud of myself for managing all of that alone in my new culture. I reached in my pocket to get the key only to try it and discover that it was NOT the door key after all. I STILL don’t know what that key opens. There I was. No way to open my door and Steve still likely to be gone for another 4 or 5 hours!!
I immediately went downstairs to get Alfredo, the guard. We’re crazy about Alfredo. He doesn’t speak a word of English, but he has helped us in a million ways since we moved in. Surely, he’d have a solution. But, no. He didn’t have spare keys to everyone’s apartments. He told me our landlady was on the coast and unavailable, and he refused to loan me a ladder to climb up to our second floor apartment from the outside and come in through the sliding glass doors. Bummer. He said he was sorry, and I realized I was stuck. He went back downstairs, and surprisingly, I didn’t cry!! I sat down in the stairwell and started thinking. Pretty soon I remembered a bathroom available near the lobby, if necessary. 🙂 That helped my impending panic quite a bit.
Now, if I’d been at home in Alabama, several things would have been different. For one thing, I would have had a big ol’ purse with me full of lots of keys — one of them SURELY would have been the front door key. But here I try as often as possible to avoid taking a purse. I can walk faster and easier, plus I don’t feel like such a target for petty thieves and muggers. At home I would have used my cellphone to get Steve’s advice about what to do. Here, although cellphones are available and fairly common, we haven’t seen the need for one YET. In my Alabama home, I probably would have broken a window in order to get in if there had been no other options. But, in our building, there are no reachable windows, and the landlady would certainly have been unhappy with me for such a stunt.
So, I kept sitting until the idea of a locksmith came to me. Once again, I went to Alfredo and asked for his help in locating one. Both of us felt it was unlikely since it was Saturday and lunch/siesta time at that, but he found a number for me and let me use the lobby phone to call. A man answered, and I stammered something that I hope meant “I need a person to open my door, por favor.” He asked where. I gave him directions, and then he started talking very fast, so I handed the phone to Alfredo. From what I could tell, the man said that he was in the middle of lunch, but that he would come when he finished — maybe a half hour or so (Latin American time). We hung up. I went back upstairs to sit in the stairwell, eat my lunch and wait.
In a very reasonable amount of time, the locksmith arrived with his little bag of tricks, and within 5 minutes, I was inside. When I asked, “Cuanto cuesta?” (How much does it cost?) He said, “Tres.” (3) I could hardly believe my ears!! Only $3.00 for a house call on Saturday afternoon??? I paid him $3.50, and we were both VERY happy!
What a nice place to live! What nice people live in this town! As the character Annie sang when she first saw the home of Daddy Warbucks, “I think I’m going to like it here!” Another happy ending. Praise the Lord!
Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”