Thursday, January 22, 2009

Baldo

As I read the headlines today about the growing global economic meltdown, I wondered, “Is there anybody I know that hasn’t been affected in some way by all of this madness?”

Positively or negatively, is there anybody I have met in my 5 decades of living that hasn’t been touched?

I know some wealthy people whose lifestyles haven’t had to change. But, I have to assume their portfolios have taken a hit.

I know some poor people whose lifestyles haven’t changed. It is just harder and harder to bang out their existence.

I know some people in niche businesses who are flourishing. Like collection agencies. And gun shop owners.

Has it touched all 6 billion of us? (Not that I know us all.)

Then I remembered Baldo.

Met Baldo on a mission trip in Brazil. About thirty of us flew to Manaus, then took a boat up the Amazon about 8 hours. We anchored in a lake that bordered the river and shared its amazing waters.

This was not “third world”. It was the first world. The people that lived here were so remote from what we call civilization. Their homes were thatched roof, no window, dirt floor, no door huts. They shared their living spaces with their dogs, chickens, pigs, and several generations of family. They cooked over open flame. Their water came from the lake.

These good people built their homes on land that suited them. Some in the jungle. Some close to the water. They don’t “own” the land as we might think because they didn’t have a proper closing and title search done. However, I don’t suggest anyone try to explain this oversight to them lest they introduce you to their means of protecting their property. As in very sharp homemade machetes. (Maybe that’s how we end the title insurance scam.)

Our group included doctors, dentists, missionaries, and knuckleheads like me.

One of our projects was to construct a building for the small “village” we were ministering to. The building was to be used as a church and a community center.

If you have never had the opportunity to do construction in the Amazon, it is something like this. Go into your bathroom. Turn on all the hot water. Turn on the heat. Seal all the windows and doors so the heat and humidity are locked in. Have a friend throw in some very large bugs that bite, and a few poisonous snakes. Then, do as many jumping jacks and pushups as you can. Then, get a hammer and smash your thumb.

Baldo lived next to where we were putting up the building. Baldo was built like an NFL linebacker on steroids. (Is that redundant?) He had a smile like Will Smith-permanent, authentic, and contagious.

Baldo was fascinated with us aliens. What in the world had brought us there? Where did all of this material and machinery come from? Who were we and what did we want?

At lunch break one day, he came over for a visit. He asked a thousand questions.

Then, thru an interpreter we had hired, I asked him one.

“Baldo, what do you think about when you think about the future?”

“You mean, tomorrow?”

“No, I mean the future.”

“Tomorrow, I will go fishing. If I catch fish, it will be a good day. If not, I will go fishing the next day.”

That was it. That was his vision of the future.

Ever since that day, I have been wondering who is more civilized. Baldo, or me?

He isn’t worried about his resume. His 401k. The equity in his home. His kids’ college funds. New run-flat tires on his BMW. Health insurance. Retirement. Vacation. Republican vs. Democrat. Exchange rates. Taxes. Boxers or briefs.

If Baldo is still alive, he is the one guy I know who hasn’t been affected. In a land where the life expectancy is 35 years, Baldo, I hope you are having a fabulous day.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome. Met some folks like that in Jamaica and Thailand, too. Good story.

    ReplyDelete