Every Friday night when I’m in The States Senora Luci—the Bora Indian woman who is in charge of my house for children in Iquitos—calls me from Iquitos when I’m in the States. The purpose of the call is twofold. First, we determine how much money I need to Western Union her to pay the bills for the following week. Next, I get to chat with the children about what’s going on with them.
Senora Luci: “I’m having a problem with Iveli?”
Me: “Problem? What kind of problem?”
Senora Luci: “She knows she’s supposed to be home no later than ten O’clock. But last night she didn’t get here until twenty until eleven.”
Me: “Did she say why she came home late?”
Senora Luci: “Only that she’d forgotten how late it was.”
Me: “That’s not a good excuse.”
Senora Luci: “When you’re not here she uses that excuse all the time.”
Me: “Put her on the phone and I’ll speak to her about the problem.”
Senora Luci: “She’s outside. I’ll go get her.”
As I waited for Iveli to come to the phone, I thought about the first time I met here. It happened seven years ago when she was seven. Her father was long gone, and her mother was unable to feed and clothe her. Her face was smeared with dirt and her hair was … well … you get the picture.
She had problems adjusting to living at my house. Back then there were five other girls in my house. Iveli got her feelings hurt easily. When she thought one of the other girls had made fun of her, she would lash out against her. Her favorite retaliation was to wait for the perceived offender to go to sleep at night. Then Iveli would get up and put chewing gum in the girl’s hair.
The sound of Iveli entering the house interrupted my reverie.
Iveli: “You wanted to talk to me about something, Senor Leo?”
Me: “I do. Senora Luci tells me that you came home late last night.Is that right?”
Iveli: “The time just slipped by, Senor Leo. I won’t do it again.”
Me: “Iveli, we want you to be in the house by ten for a good reason.”
Iveli: “I know.”
“It would be nice if you apologized to her.”
Iveli put the phone down and spoke to Senora Luci. I could hear both of them sobbing. Sometimes when I’m in The States someone will ask me why I live in Peru. To be honest with you, there are a few times when I’m not so sure, It takes an emotional moment like the one that took place yesterday to remind me that Iquitos, Peru is definitely where God wants me to be.