“She sure is,” Senora Luci said, nodding her head at the sleeping eight month old baby in her arms.
It was a rainy Friday the second week in June. I had just walked the fifteen blocks from downtown to our house. Drenched, I went to my room to change into dry clothes. “Whose baby is it?” I called out to Senora Luci.
“A neighbor’s,” she replied. After a long pause, she added, “Her name is Ja Di.” (Jah-dee)
As I changed clothes I thought about the children I’ve taken care of over the years. I have taken in so many children I have lost count. Some have stayed with us for just a few months—just long enough for the parents to improve their economic situation. Others have stayed for years. Now there are only two girls in my house. Fifteen year old Juanita and fourteen year old Iveli.
When I stepped back into the living room Ja Di was awake. She eyed me critically. I thought she was going to cry. But she didn’t. So I opened my arms wide to pick her up. Bad move on my part. She let out a scream. Senora Luci said some soothing words to her.Then she stuck a bottle of baby milk into her mouth.Senora Luci said to me, ” I did something without consulting with you.”
That got my attention. “What?”
“A neighbor brought Ja Di here about an hour ago.” She went on to explain that a twenty-seven year old neighbor’s wife had recently left him. His mother lives in a small fishing village a days travel by boat down the Amazon River. And he left to go fetch her to take care of Ja Di.
“You agreed to take care of the baby until the man returns with his mother, right?”
That scene took place three and a half months ago. The father has yet to come after his baby. It’s possible that he will return tomorrow. Or maybe in a few more weeks. Or he may never come back.
I’ll be traveling to the States in a few days. I’ll stay there through November. Need to visit with my fabulous family and friends. And will need some medical checkups. I should return to Iquitos the first of December. Regrettably, I will miss Ja Dis first birthday party. And probably the first time she walks on her own.
Yesterday a neighbor asked me why I’m still taking care of Ja Di. “After all,” he said. “She is not your responsibility.”
Without hesitating, I replied, “Because it’s my job.” He didn’t ask me who gave me this job, but I added, “A job God gave me.”