Guitars of La Paz (The First Day)

The first Guitars of La Paz was this afternoon. We walked slowly to Grandview Presbyterian, our hands full of guitars in their cases and a box with stands. The kids started to follow us from their houses and we all, like a slow, trickling parade, processed to the church.

We started with six, then twelve, then six students again. They were excited to open the cases and when we did, Christopher said, “Woah! Wooooah!” like he’d just seen the best guitar ever made.

My good friend Roper was with me and helped me get chairs and guitar stands ready. The kids watched and their eyes opened so wide when we handed out the guitars, one at a time. In a little time, we tried two easy chords and when they got the hang of it, I could see pride in their eyes.

This pride, this joy kept a couple of the kids at Grandview for another two and a half hours, sitting on an outside bench or bumping into pastor Rick and Lee, a youth minister there, both who play guitar and showed the kids another song, another chord.

Charles, they call him “Chucky”, kept bringing kids over to my house, which is a half-block away. They were coming to pick out a few picks and give me the “Guitar Care” sheet, saying they’d take care of this loaner guitar.

“It was a surprise to see you here today Charles. I didn’t know you had an interest in this. You seem to have a knack for it. See you next week?” I said.

He smiled as he walked down the steps. “You bet,” he said. He was eager to play some more, I could see it.

“See you next week.”

Christopher and Michael came to my house next. They wanted to trade guitar picks with me. We dumped out my candy jar full of them and swished them around on the floor, looking for the ones they thought best. We’d seen the boys earlier, packing their guitars over their shoulders in Christopher’s front yard, looking for a good spot to sit down and practice. Christopher told me he’d practiced the “G” chord for a half hour. “I got it!” he said.

Excited with his pick find, he and Michael turned toward the door.

“See you next week, guys.”

“Ok. Thanks Ben,” Christopher said as he reached out his hand to shake mine, a gesture that surprised me.

“You bet, Christopher. This’ll be fun.”