The roof, a small island, the last place to be when...pop, pop, pop...cracks like gunfire begin. Scanning the surrounding hills, heads of three snipers smile back as the barrage continues. Between the rain of card board and paper, mingled with the smell of gun powder, a glimpse of kids tossing fire crackers from their perch over head.
Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop...minutes stretch as the attack continues.
Climbing to the train tracks that carved through the base of the hill between us, I call out for them to come down and face my wrath. Excuse in hand to invade, their shoes gleefully trace trails down to our work site. Smiles shine bright driving away any shadow of frustration.
My hammer and nails are were no good for work any more, as their weapons of mass distraction are traded for tools and some spare blocks of wood. Hearts emaciated, they hunger for attention. We sat by the rusty old swing set talking and playing the rest of the afternoon, beneath the stern gaze of the other workers.
Each day the kids join us at sunrise when we returned to our labor. Slowly other missionaries came around to play as well, trading off so I can work. Nails hammered by the kids into a block of wood create steel crosses and find a home in the crook of a nearby tree. Friendships are born, and love begins.
Late in the week, our time drawing to a close, a neighboring pastor drops by...
I have seen those kids before, sad story. At home they don't get love. They are beaten and abused...physically, emotionally, sexually. We have tried, but...
The sound of my heart ripping churns hot bile in my stomach. Puddles form around my feet from the tracks of my tears. The rest of his words are lost in the cacophony of cluttering thoughts. I walk aimless down lonely streets, until I can breath.
The week goes by too fast and farewells seem too short. Quivering smiles press pictures into my calloused hands, which still reside between pages in the book by my bed. Every once in a while, thoughts drift back to my young friends and wonder if they still walk passed the block of wood in the crook of the tree on the way back to their house...and remember that love is.
In building a roof, we must never forget the people that live beneath them. They truly are most important.