Mary and I live in a lovely apartment complex known as Macedonia. For the last year or so a man named Jacinto has worked here as the gardener and care-taker of Macedonia. He lives in the small cottage behind our home and is our closest neighbor. He is a simple Ecuatoriano with a small physical stature that is filled to overflowing with a huge heart. He has become one of our dearest friends.
When we left to go to the States for our vacation we asked Jacinto what we could get as a present for him from the USA. He told us not to get him anything, he just hoped that God would bless us with a safe trip and happy visit with our family. We persisted and told him that we were definitely going to get him a small gift and he finally said that perhaps he would like a fútbol jersey (note: that is not a misspelling – soccer is called fútbol here in Ecuador) from the United States national world cup team.
Mary and I spent a bit of time first trying to find USA Soccer jerseys and then finding one that might fit Jacinto. Anyway…we did find a jersey and also located another shirt on sale at a Walmart that reminded us of Jacinto. It had a picture of Popeye on it, so we got that too. I gave it to Jacinto after we got back and told him Popeye reminded me of him because he is small, but very strong. Jacinto knew of Popeye (but he pronounced the name – Poh-peh-yea) and really seemed to like both shirts.
About two months ago we learned that May 29th was Jacinto’s birthday and we started making plans for a birthday dinner. Jacinto has no family close by. We learned that his parents died when he was young and he rarely has visitors, so we wanted to make the day special. We got steaks to grill, Mary made twice-baked potatoes, potato skins, steamed vegetables, and broccoli salad. I picked up some ice-cream and we ordered a cake.
Our friends Jimmy and Susan lived in the adjacent apartment for a while and we invited them to come share the meal with us since they had become friends with Jacinto as well. Unfortunately Susan was not feeling well, but Jimmy was able to make it. We were all ready when Jacinto showed up in his new Popeye shirt wearing one of his patented big smiles!
We settled down for the feast!
I think Jacinto ate more than he usually eats in a week, but still had room for a big slice of birthday cake and ice-cream.
We got him an Ecuadorian fútbol jersey and a world cup memorial soccer ball. Jimmy and Susan also had a gift for Jacinto.
But, I think Jacinto got the biggest kick out of his card which unexpectedly started playing a spirited song when he opened it.
After we got back from our trip we learned that Jacinto’s cat “Miel” had passed away during our absence. We wanted to give Jacinto a new kitten to fill the void of Miel’s passing, but had to give him a picture of a kitten that will be ready to leave its’ mother in two more weeks. I paid the price in scratches trying to get this picture, but it will be worth it when we get to pick it up and give it to our good friend, Jacinto.
It was a great joy to bring some birthday greetings and wishes to Jacinto here where…
Life is good in Ecuador!