Poi-fect! she thought as her beloved’s brown hands reached down to rescue her.
She had fallen down a crevice into the cavernous pathway of a dried up river. They had been digging for water. Luckily, Huritt saw her waving shovel sticking up out of the parched earth.
But she’d seen the crumbling ground where their water source used to be. Soon there would be more sinkholes. She told Huritt, her soul mate, all of this with just a look after he pulled her up onto stable ground. They didn’t need words. They knew and understood all just by looking into each other’s eyes.
They had an instant and electrifying connection when they met. They were forever bonded to one another. It didn’t matter that they had difficulty understanding each other’s native tongues. The two were one.
Huritt jumped down into the crevasse to explore further himself. She waited for him there at the edge. She worried that he’d fall deeper into the dying earth. All she could do was pray for his safe return. She knew he might not return from that same crack in the earth, but still, she sat there all night.
The others left her alone. She was an outsider. Some even believed the drought was her fault.
The following day she jumped when she felt a light touch on her shoulder. -- The one drawback to having a tracker as her love was that she never heard his approach! He was as quiet as the wind on a calm day.
Huritt saw the relief and the love in her eyes. In his dirt-covered face she saw the hopelessness of the tribe’s situation.
He told the others that although it was months earlier than normal, they had to move on to their winter grounds. There was no more water. The earth was dying for miles all around. Soon there would be no food either. And so the tribe packed up their meager belongings.
She had gone to them as a missionary, and also to see how these people lived off of the land, how they survived. -- She knew her people might someday need to do the same. Fr. Agua wasn’t surprised when she opted to stay.
Huritt beamed at the news. He enveloped her in his strong arms and blinked once, slowly. And it was as if he had kissed her with his big brown eyes. His eyes also told her they would marry in the spring. Her eyes told him she wanted to bear his children.
The wedding would also give the people something to look forward to. She would get her new name then, too -- her tribal name.
During the long winter the others warmed up to her. They could see how special she was to Huritt and how deeply she cared for him. He wasn’t their chief, but he was much respected.
The winter was dry and the spring rains never came. They had some snow melt for water, but when it was gone… When Fr. Agua returned with another group, the missionaries helped dig an eighty foot well -- by hand. The tribe’s scouting parties had found all their other water holes dried up. A well was their only chance.
Some of the tribe objected to relying on the missionaries for help, but the new well and its hand-pump enabled them to remain on their land. More young adults left the tribe every year for the city -- the same sprawling city that was guzzling up all the water.
The people were ready for a celebration. All winter the women had worked on her intricate beaded wedding dress. She felt so beautiful in it. Fr. Agua presided over the Christian wedding. Their special day also included some tribal traditions, like her dress and naming ceremony.
Their church was the great outdoors, the ceiling a star studded sky lit only by moonlight. And on that glorious night, just as a meteor streaked across the sky, Huritt named his bride Nutta -- my heart.
Fr. Agua baptized all seven of Huritt and Nutta’s children on his mission trips to help the poor tribe. But they weren’t poor in the ways that mattered most.
Their firstborn, Mukki, became a healer. The second eldest, Ahanu, became a priest. Achak became chief of the tribe. Chepi became a tracker; Kimi, a scribe; Nadie, a wise-woman; and the youngest, Chiana, went off to the city – as a missionary.
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