Barbed-Wire Memories

The laughter of children at play filled the air. We were visiting Padre Fabreto’s Home for Abandoned Children and our mission team members were enjoying every moment of their visit. As our time with the children came to an end, I found myself walking to a favorite spot in Nicaragua.

At the edge of the orphanage’s property is a place where it seemed as if you could see forever. It was truly a spectacular sight, one that neither photographs nor words could do justice. It is something you have to see, no, experience for yourself.

Strangely, God’s words did not come from the magnificent view but from something a few feet in front of me. A clothes line! Well, not the U.S. rope and clothes pin variety, but a piece of barbed wire stretched tightly between a tree and a post. The wire held up the heavy wet clothes and the barbs kept the clothes from being blown off.

While looking at the barbed wire, I noticed the barbs and how many of them had balls of threads wrapped around them. Puzzled, I considered them more closely and realized that each time the clothes were taken down, perhaps a shirt or pair of slacks, the cloth would get caught on the barbs and a piece of thread would be torn away. In time, small balls of thread had formed around each barb – a small price each garment would “pay” to the barbed wire for holding it secure in the wind.

This, for me, was Nicaragua. CONSIDER that each time I journey there and behold the beauty of the land and experience the gracious hospitality of the people, I am blessed by its gentle and refreshing breeze. But when I leave, I find a part of me gets caught on the barbs of things seen and experienced: a mother walking the floor of the hospital, trying to comfort her severely burned child; a hardworking man, sitting across from me at the Cooperative, toes sticking out of the holes in his shoes; a little boy leaning up against a wall, poorly clothed, with an infected sore on his leg, yet smiling. They are for me my “barbed wire” memories. Their smiling faces refresh me, their circumstances tear at me. Each time I go, more of me stays. A small sacrifice, I should think, for caring for “the least of these.”

Rev. Wendell Mettey
March 1993
Revised 5/28/2014

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