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The Detour

Better than the Planned Route

By Liezl Noya Ladaran

I just came from town for a visit with an Indian family and sat down on the very comfortable chair in the mission house. In a little while Auntie Bebie comes, shouting “Lata, we will go tonight to the Hindu family who invited you.” I feel so tired and do not want to go, but I had given my word already, so I said okay, we’ll go. I did rest for a while and asked God to help me and give me the strength and lead me. In the darkness of the night, with the flashlight as our guiding light, we walked.

When we were almost at the house, Uncle Sammy asked a man standing near the bridge if anyone was home. I could see that there were no lights in the house. I was upset but didn’t show it.

It was a starry night, and my feelings were soothed by the coolness in the night and gave peace to my mind. We continued walking, and this time I knew where we were going. I was excited but thought the people will be surprised with our visit! When we arrived they were surprised and reluctantly responded to our greeting, and they keep saying, “who are they?” They were busy fixing things inside, then after that we came inside and I saw the mat spread on the floor and the yangona. There were introductions all around.

One elderly lady was familiar to me. She was the mother of the bride whose wedding I had attended recently. We talked about the usual family matters, and I spoke to the kids in Hindi. The grandmother introduced me to her grandchildren and started telling me the sad story of her daughter-in-law, and her own story as well. She told me her daughter-in-law had three children, but the third one is the son of her present husband. I didn’t understand that statement, and it made me confused. She was shy at first then she told me. The first husband was her eldest son who had died. Then second son married the daughter-in-law to keep them in their family together and take care of the two children.

Then she told me about her other son who became handicapped. Her son born complete and well, but when her son was 3 or 4 years old, his uncle tossed him up in the air but didn’t catch him. The poor little boy fell down and hit his head on the ground and that was the end of the noisy world. The accident affected his hearing, but still he continued his studies. He managed to pretend to hear until his family discovered it. One good man helped him and gave him a temporary hearing aid, but when a flood came it was lost. The deaf man lived peacefully with his wife and children; they loved each other and he worked very hard for the family. Many people offered work to him like cutting grass and electrical matters. I was amazed by the life of this family!

Sometimes we deny reality, or maybe we are not too sensitive to the people around us. We neglect our own family by the nuisance of surroundings and different things in front of us. We keep assuring our peers that everything is okay. Too much positive thinking can destroy the feelings of other people and their needs. It reminds me of Genesis when God asked Cain, “where is your brother?” We are accountable to each other. I believbe this is what God wants us to do.

Sometimes a detour in life is much better than the planned route. This detour was an opportunity for me to see the reality of this family. I learned many lessons in life at this meeting. It is always a blessing for me when I feel tired and come across people requesting my presence. At the end, I am rejuvenated by the joy and good insights.

Originally from the Philippines, Columban lay missionary Liezl Noya Ladaran lives and works in Fiji.