Today I was assigned to stay home for the first time…no, really, the second time, I guess, because I was at home on Saturday, too. But today was different, so I’ll write about it.
Ah! My alarm went off at 6, and without a flutter, without a complaint, I got up immediately and had my devotions.
I forgot my coat and my glasses, so I wrapped myself in a blanket in the salon and had to read my Bible inches away from my face. Tomorrow I’ll have to set my coat out and not forget my glasses.
We ate breakfast at 7:30 and I was actually semi-done by the time the others left the room, but I think I still have been the last one at the table every meal. It’s not that I’m eating more…I don’t think…just that they eat really, really fast.
Devotions at 7:45 consisted of a couple of songs and then prayer for the rest of the time. I think I fell asleep.
When the girls left, I went to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. C, who was the responsible assigned to the house, found me there and told me that everyone was supposed to wait in the salon until the jobs were given out. Oh. Ooops! Again. But how was I to know? She told me to go ahead and finish my tea and come back to the salon.
When I got there, I was assigned the job of helping the wife of one of the married couples who lives in the house, and her apartment is behind one of the closed doors in the hallway that I didn’t know where it led. She broke her leg and her finger on Friday, and I was sent to clean the house for her. I vacuumed, mopped, and dusted. She was really nice and has two kids, a boy and a girl. Her apartment was lovely & cozy with 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, a kitchen, and a living room. It’s hard to believe that exists in this house along with all the rest of the space we have. And there are at least two or three other couples apartments here in the house…or four? (Note: Later I asked A and she said there are 7!!! The one I cleaned was the biggest.) I’m not used to living in a house this big.
I was done helping her at about 10:30, and C asked Q and I to mop the bedrooms and the hallways, which was already swept. We got the bedrooms done and that hallway, and we were about to start the hallway that the bathroom is in when C called us for our midmorning snack. I guess the girls eat a little “pinch” of something every day at 11:00. (It’s more like what I would usually eat for a regular lunch, and then they eat lunch at 2, which is more like what I would eat for dinner, and then they have another “little” snack at 4, and then dinner at 9, which is approximately equivalent to lunch.) Today we had tea and bread with butter and cheese. If I do this every day, I’m surely going to get fat.
We finished mopping after that and then helped C a little bit in the kitchen. Then she told us that there was nothing left for us to do, so we went to the salon.
Lunch was early—about 1:30—and it was just 6 of us: C, A2, Q, R, and O. We had garlic soup (made of garlic, bread, and jamón in a broth), liver with onions, and mashed potatoes. Yum!
Then we all went to the salon, where the girls laid down on sofas to rest. I sat in a chair to write in my journal because I wasn’t tired. Then, all of a sudden, I was tired. All the sofas were taken, and I went to my room to sleep in my bed.
C came to wake me up at about 4:20, and she said, “Look, you’re not allowed to sleep in your bed during the day except on Saturdays and Sundays. You can rest in the salon.”
“Vale (ok)” I said, but I was thinking, “What???” Up until now, the rules have been understandable and logical, and the only problem was that I didn’t know them. But this seemed quite arbitrary, especially when C herself took a nap in her bed when we worked together on Wednesday. Oh well…
I went to the kitchen and helped peel and slice potatoes for a tortilla de patatas. I also cut up eggplant for pisto, which was one of my favorite dishes I had forgotten about. I sort of got the idea of how to make it. Fry peeled tomatoes in oil until they’re falling apart. Add green pepper and onions and cook it down. Last of all, add eggplant and zucchini (both cut into like 1-cm cubes and sprinkled with salt ahead of time to release their liquids). Heat that up until the zucchini and eggplant are cooked but not falling apart. I don’t know if you add any seasonings other than salt.
When we got done with the food prep, we went back to the salon, and a little later, Q took a shower. After that, we returned to the kitchen. C was in the middle of making the tortilla de patatas, and Q started making the salad. I walked over to smell the pisto and made some comment like, “Oh, que bien,” (Oh, how wonderful). Carmen came over and said, “You know, it really stresses me out when you’re walking over here, getting in my way when I’m trying to work in the kitchen.”
I looked up in surprise. “Do you want me to leave?” I said.
“No,” she said. “It’s just that I’m trying to move around fast in here, and I don’t want to bump into you or anything. I just need my space,” she said.
I moved over the corner of the kitchen and looked around for something useful to do. But soon, Q came under C’s wrath and she said to me, “Please take her out of here.” So Q and I left the kitchen.
We sat in the salon for a little while and then Q asked to go back to the kitchen. “No,” I said. But she was going. “NO!” I said. (Not that an increase in volume would make any difference.) She wouldn’t swerve from her purpose, and as she’s not allowed to go anywhere by herself, I had to go along.
In the kitchen, Q started putting bread on the table. I did have to marvel that she knew what to do and was trying to be helpful.
But C yelled at her. “Q! Ask first! The girls are bringing fresh bread and we’re going to use that. Go away!”
So we left again.
We sat in the salon a little while longer and Q said she wanted to go to the kitchen again.
“Why?” I said.
“I want a drink of water.”
“Okay,” I said. “But you’re not going to get in trouble with C again, right?”
She shook her head, we went into the kitchen, and she immediately went over to C.
“C, have you calmed down?” she asked.
“Yes, everything’s done,” C said.
They gave each other a hug and Q started to put the drinks on the table. She had already put water in the pitchers earlier, and had put them in the refrigerator. Now she set them out on the table. Another instance of something helpful that I didn’t even know to think of.
We ate a yummy dinner of tortilla de patatas and pisto, two of my favorite Spanish foods.
After dinner, we went to the salon and I gave Lucy a massage. Then U wanted one, and then Q wanted one. Q was hilarious, because the massage was super ticklish to her, and I had barely touched her before she was rolling over, laughing. Her laugh was infectious, partly because I had never heard her laugh, and partly because it sounded so natural in contrast to the way she talks.
Then D wanted a massage, and her neck was really tight. She said it had been hurting for a week.
We got talking, and her Spanish is not good, but she started to confide in me. “I—Catholic,” she said. “The Bible, no.” I have—” (and here she named some book that was like a 5- or 6-syllable Polish word). She showed it to me; it was a little book in Polish with probably the mass and some prayers and some Bible verses. (I really don’t know; it was in Polish, but I saw the word “misa” (mass) and “Psalm 69” so… more or less I gathered what it was.)
In her broken Spanish, she expressed how she was Catholic, she had grown up Catholic, and all her family and her country was Catholic.
“You—Jesus only,” she said. “Me—Jesus, Maria, and King.”
“I know,” I said. I listened and nodded and detected a real agony of mind in her communication.
The next day’s devotion was going to be each girl sharing one or two verses from the Bible, and A came in and gave D a Bible so that she could find a verse to share.
I offered to help her find one, but she said, “Me, the Bible, no. I have my ___.” (That Polish word again.)
“But the Catholic Bible is the same as this one,” I explained. “The only difference is that you have some extra books that we don’t have.” (She didn’t understand this at all.)
She gently picked up the Bible and set it aside. “Thank you very much,” she said very graciously, “But not now.”
“What are you going to do tomorrow, then?” I asked. “All the girls have to read at least one verse. Why don’t we pick something that you agree with. You believe in Jesus. Pick something that Jesus said. Look, all the writing in red is words of Jesus.”
“No, but read Spanish, I no understand,” she said.
“Okay,” I said. I suggested “God is love” and “Jesus wept,” but she again politely closed the Bible and put it in a drawer.
“In my country,” she said, “I see people carrying Bible. They talk to me. I say, ‘No thank you.’ Someone come, my door, knock. Carrying Bible. I say, ‘No thank you.’ I Catholic. Bible, no.”
“Okay,” I said.