friday started off much more mellow, we went to the pediatric cancer ward of one of Managua’s largest and most developed hospitals. when we got there we each took up armfuls of beanie babies – possibly the world’s best stuffed animal to hand out – and went in small groups to different rooms.
we dressed up eli for the occasion
a lot of people back home reacted with shock to the news that we had visited kids stricken with pretty advanced cancer, even while knowing the other kids we were seeing lived in a trash dump or an orphanage. but this, like every other part of this trip, became so easy as we let go of ourselves. it’s one of those principles that’s present in so many different religions – the utter loss of ego opens you up to let everything just be. i can’t stop what’s happening or heal these kids, i can barely speak to them. but i know that i can give them a toy, help them smile. this is just not as complicated as we always make it out to be. i don’t need to save anyone right now.
i mean, of course it was difficult, especially to leave; the boy i visited with was more than a little cranky, and it took almost the entire visit for us to be friends. and then i had to go. i’m pretty sure i’ll never see him again, regardless of his cancer. it can be so easy to fall into a “what’s the point, then?” mentality about the visit, but HE is the point. there just doesn’t need to be any other. and the point doesn’t have to be life-altering. it can be as simple as a small connection. loving him was not a waste of my time, or of his.
we ate a light lunch surrounded by sun and music. for some reason, we didn’t talk much, just kind of relaxed in each other’s company. we weren’t in a real hurry, but didn’t linger, either. friday night was the National Youth Rally, and we wanted to be ready!
the afternoon went quickly. we had to drop off someone at the airport, then cleaned up and had some down time at the hotel. around 6 we were able to walk to the rally, it was at a stadium about six blocks away. we showed up a little early, not knowing what we were getting into – the estimates of the night’s attendance ranged from 30 to 70 thousand people. and we held hands as we had to literally break through the lines of people waiting to get in so that we could get into the stadium and backstage. this was totally scarier than going into the dump.
people, whether they meant to or not, were pushing and clawing at us. no one knew how to explain to the crowd that The Gringos Have Privileges (read into that whatever you want). we all felt pretty bad about cutting line in front of, well, the whole freaking line that snaked across the street and down the block. and when people saw a door opening just for us, they rushed it. a few of us were separated – huge mistake because we didn’t have tickets, only each other – but it all turned out all right in the end. about 30 minutes later we were all backstage, a little breathing room away from the mayhem.
between songs brad talked about Central America, La Chureca, all of us being a united people.
this is unbelievably ironic for a few reasons – his stance on this would be why
A. i love being involved
B. i thought the cuban revolutionary poster art was an appropriate artistic direction for his upcoming “Side of the Road” DVD
C. it’s the platform of all political revolutions in Central America, including those of Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Fidel’s Cuba. so… it’s the eternal struggle of yes, if Central America bonded together they wouldn’t have to be in the shadow of the imperialist USA… but every political leader who does this ends up screwing over the people they claim to be uniting.
it’s brad, so i know he’s the personification of sincerity. but if these kids are listening, and the next El Presidente says it… i don’t know where i’m going with this. it’s a beautiful message, and i pray it comes true in a way that is healthy and uplifting for the people.
as things wound down, brad had a ton of autographs to sign… i stuck around to try and help dismantle the set, but turns out those strapping boys needed no help from me, so we went back to the hotel for a late dinner and intense prayer session. a lot went down tonight, so many people were there and i pray they continue to be inspired to the idea of our family being an inclusive, everlasting one.