Every night before bed, I load up some music to play for baby girl on my laptop and play for her the sounds of my life as I read or browse the web. I've been going through the whole gamut of music I've loved in every season of my life and have relived so many phases of who I've become along the way. Incredible how music is so deeply tied to parts of our soul and can evoke emotions and memories like nothing else, isn't it? I can't wait for her to experience music herself ... hence my early start program.
Tonight was Bob Marley night. As the rhythms of Three Little Birds started up on my MOG player, I instantly recalled my most stunning memory tied to this song and lyrics.
It was 2007 and I was in Peru.
Throughout our stay we traveled to several orphanages and delivered brand new shoes and socks (collected by radio station drives all over the US) for all. One day in particular, we traveled by bus to a town so overcome with poverty, we had a hard time determining where to even go. Eventually we came to a walled community and were greeting by not just boys and girls, but also their mothers and grandmothers. We soon learned this was a safe place for those suffering and seeking refuge from rape and violence in their own homes.
Even despite the language barrier, I found myself surrounded by a group of teenage girls so excited and curious about me, my hair, my novio, and anything else we could stumble through with what little we knew of one another's language. They wanted to be hugged, be smiled at and make eye contact with me. They were all so full of life it made it hard to comprehend the horror they'd experienced at such a young age. I didn't realize for awhile there was another little girl making huge effort to get to our group as her grandmother pushed and maneuvered through grass and rocks to get her over to us. Melissa was in a wheel chair and when she finally caught my eye, the dread in her eyes disappeared and an excitement welled up in it's place. She wanted so badly to be part of the silliness and I loved to see the other girls embrace her and make her part of the group.
But you know how there's always one that stands out the most? One that keeps part of you with them even after you leave? One that will always have part of your heart? That is Melissa for me.
Before long it came time for our group to head out and it felt criminal to leave these girls, knowing the dangers they were hiding from behind the walls of this compound. I hugged Melissa goodbye, then hugged the other girls some more. As I turned to leave, I noticed Melissa sitting there in her chair, arms wide open, ready for another hug. I hugged her again and this time whispered a prayer of protection for her. I kissed her head and then had to book it towards the bus.
I sat back in my seat and watched out the window just as the sun was setting, smiling at the sight of those girls yet fighting back tears and feeling so conflicted as to whether or not there was anything I could really ever do to help them. "Mission trips" are tough like that.
All was quiet as the bus rumbled on and I'm certain Arturo was aware of the somber emotion felt by everyone else on the bus. Before long, I heard him start to sing.
"Rise up this mornin', smiled with the risin' sun."
I glanced out of the corner of my eye and saw he had his head tilted back, eyes closed and was smiling as he sang.
"Three little birds pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs of melodies pure and true sayin',
He elbowed me again and laughed as he sang:
"This is my message to you-ou-ou.
Meanin' Don't worry about a thing, worry about a thing,
oh! Ev-ry little thing gonna be all right.
Singin' Don't worry about a thing - I won't worry!
‘cause every little thing gonna be all right."