Miguel knows best. Miguel is the best! In 2009, I was a part of my first house build for a poverty-stricken Mexican family who resided in Baja California, Mexico. I was not the first one to do this in this area nor will I be the last. As we drove up to the neighborhood where we were building, you could see all the homes that had been built by the charity that we were working with. They were all similar except for one thing. The homes all had the brightest colored exteriors that I have ever seen. From home depot orange to pepto bismol pink the dirt roads and dismal yards faded into the dusty background of Mexico. The sight of what we were going to build by the end of the week excited me and was a great encouragement to get to work.
I grew up with a father who made a living in construction, which meant that we never called a handy man or paid someone to fix something. My dad was always encouraging my brother and I to help him work around the house, willing or unwilling we helped. Mostly unwilling. Because of this I am no stranger to the hammer or the shovel (just to clarify my father was on this trip). As we began to frame the house and build the walls we all took a hammer and began to work our little hearts out.
As I happily swung my hammer and laughed with my comrades, I was thinking I was the “Hot Stuff”. I noticed that there was a little pair of eyes staring at me the whole time. I kindly smiled at the child who was around 8 years old. He looked at my dad who was working near me and said something in rapid Spanish.
Although I am of Mexican decent I can only speak high school Spanish, 3rdgeneration Americanism often leads to this. My father on the other hand spoke Spanish as his first language. I looked at my dad who now was laughing and saying something back.
“…trabaja…” oh I know that word it means, “work!” In my head I thought, “Hehe, he thinks I am good at working, and since I am a girl it must be even more impressive.”
“What did he say to you?” I asked my father. He laughed and shook his head again. “What!?!” I continued to ask.
Next thing I know the hammer that was in my hand was being pulled and within moments the child was slamming the nails into the 2×4 at an extremely fast and accurate rate. He finished my line of nails and handed me the hammer. Apparently he was not commenting on my fine skills instead he was pointing out how I handled a hammer like a 7-year-old.
Instead of just showing me up and dissing my handy work, he began to show me the best practice for hammering a nail. He went slow and then handed me the hammer to me to try. Of course the nail bent. He took the hammer, pulled out the ruined nail and set me up for the next try. I began to practice with him and once he thought my work was adequate he moved on to the next poor aid worker who thought they were the hottest thing around.
Miguel is his name and at 8 years old he humbled me. That week I saw him fix a broken bike and take care of his little brother. I saw him play baseball and help paint his neighbor’s house pepto bismol pink. Miguel is the handy man of the neighborhood. Miguel knows best when it comes to the technique of hammering a nail. Miguel is simply the best.
This morning I woke up to the beautiful California sun and a light breeze (I truly believe that the Sun shines a little differently in California). I put on a light sweater and met the fresh air with a smile, as my husband and I went out to enjoy a delicious breakfast burrito, ahh brunch! Meanwhile in U.S states such as Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, people are finally encountering the calm after the storm. After nearly a week of tornadoes the weather seems to be giving way.
One statement that I often hear after natural disasters is “Why do they continue to live there?” Here in California the threat of a tornado is fairly low, I have only encountered 2 -3 serious tornado warnings, which from my recollection turned out to be an overreaction. Our most realistic threat is a major earthquake or depending on where you live in California, a flood. When I meet people from states that don’t have earthquakes they often mention earthquakes, as if I needed reminding that the plates beneath my feet might open and suck me down into the depths of the earth. My response to this is “Have you seen the Sun in California?”
So why is it that we are not searching for the perfect place to live; that utopia of weather and free from natural disaster? One obvious response is it doesn’t exist, not on earth anyways. Everyplace on this earth has a piece of heaven in it, only it is spread out within the many lands with the potential for disaster sprinkled in here and there.From these natural disasters humanity has become resilient, and although we wonder why others would put themselves in nature’s way, we may not realize that we are doing the same thing just on a different avenue of the weather map. Floods, Hurricanes, Tornados, Earthquakes, Droughts, Tsunamis and freezing temperatures are a fact of life in this world. We cannot escape to a magical land free of disaster until death, but we can prepare and be aware of our environment.
My hearts truly go out to those that have lost their lives in the storms of the mid-west and the families that were left behind to pick up the pieces but I am inspired by the Human ability to move forward and not completely crumble in the face of disaster. I can assume with great integrity that the people from the Mid-Western United States will rebuild their homes and communities and in a few years it will be as if a tornado never tried to take the people of the mid-west to Oz.
If you would like to contribute to the resilience of humanity and assist those in the mid-western United Sates, you can GIVE your time and even your money to Convoy of Hope. They are on the ground providing assistance in debris removal and giving emergency supplies to the people and communities affected. On their giving page you can choose to give directly to their U.S disaster relief program. I even encourage you to take a look around and find out how they are helping in other areas of the world.
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