Conversation with the Goat Man's Mother

Posted on: 
August 6, 2022

Join me up here on the hill behind our little adobe house, and we’ll look out over the bowl that is our village. The sun is just about to set, and the mountains have an orange, hazy glow about them, which mixes with the smoke from dozens of evening cooking fires. I call it the Golden Hour. In the far distance we can see some trails heading up over the mountains, toward fields that may be as far as a two-hour hike away. The branches of a mango tree spread out above us, loaded with sour green mangos ready to be plucked by dirty little hands and eaten with salt. Below us is the Goat Man’s house, and beside it is his goat pen. The Goat Man’s elderly mother is beside the pen, hurling rocks at an unruly goat and hollering something that shouldn’t be repeated. She’s a spicy lady, and children and animals are the usual recipients of her ire. She always has a nice smile for me when we get back to the village after a weekend away. “You arrived again.” she’ll say. “Yes, we arrived again.” I’ll reply. I don’t know her name, and I haven’t asked, since you can know someone an awfully long time without ever knowing their name.

The goats are mostly settled in the pen now, and my thoughts turn to our relationship with the Goat Man. A year ago at a village meeting he proposed that we should be forced to leave town. Just last month, however, at another village meeting, he was the one who redirected the conversation when the same topic came up, signaling that he was no longer in favor of driving us out. He has been a good neighbor, honestly. It’s not the first time the Lord has moved us in beside someone like him, perhaps in order to give us a chance at friendship.

Down at the goat pen, his mother keeps squinting up at me, to the point that I’m beginning to think she doesn’t like me sitting here. But no, she’s coming up to join me. Listen in…

“Are you sitting here?”

“Yes, I’m sitting here.”

“The ground is very hard.”

“It’s very hard.”

“It’s a very good view here. It’s beautiful.”

“Yes, it’s very beautiful.”

Preliminaries over, we chat about many different things. She asks me if I know of any good medicines for her eyes, because she can’t see very well any more. We discuss eyes a little, then move on to other topics. I ask how many children she has, and she asks whether we want to have more children; and if so, how many? Two of her children died as infants, which is less than the average among her generation. She is fortunate, she says, to have so many children still living. Then we talk about childbirth and midwives, and the fact that there is only one older woman left in the village who knows traditional midwifery, and she can’t see well enough to practice anymore.

“Now everyone goes to the hospital to have their babies,” she says. “Before, all of the babies were born at home with midwives. The midwives knew how to rub our bellies so that the baby would come down and be born; but now the doctors say we don’t need to do that–-the baby will come down on its own.”

She asks me (again) why we are here. And aren’t we ever going back to our town? We discuss visas, cars and air-planes, animals, jobs, and tortillas. She coughs a lot during the course of our conversation: decades of smoky fires and moldy houses have not been friendly to her lungs. Yet as she rises to go, I’m amazed at how spry she is for her age. She slowly begins to wander away without saying goodbye, and I say “I’m going now”. “Eh” she replies.

It was a nice conversation; a pleasant surprise to have the Goat Man's mother join me here on the hillside. There’s just one thought I can’t get out of my mind:

“Lord, did we get here in time for her?”


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  • “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
  • “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witness of these things.” Luke 24:47, 48
  • “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19
  • “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
  • “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel.” Ephesians 3:6
  • “That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:21
  • “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’?” Mark 11:17
  • “Ask of me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance.” Psalm 2:8
  • “Behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes.” Revelation 7:9
  • “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1
  • “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16
  • “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
  • “As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.” Proverbs 25:25
  • “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:10
  • “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You.” Psalm 22:27
  • “Truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” Numbers 14:21
  • “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.” Psalm 96:3, 4
  • “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14
  • “That all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.” 1 Kings 8:60
  • “For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations.” Malachi 1:11
  • “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.” Psalm 86:9
  • “For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” Isaiah 61:11
  • "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10
  • "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:3, 4
  • "You are worthy. . .; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God." Revelation 5:9, 10