Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

At least, that’s what they say. Yesterday, our neighbor Segundo called to say that our cows were out by his place, which is at the bottom end of the pasture.

I was just ready to leave for town; instead, I traipsed down to collect the cows. When I got to the bottom, the cows were back in, and there were several men sitting on the other side of the fence line.

I said, “Good morning,” and started trying to make sense of what I was seeing. For pretty much half the length of the pasture, the fencing was completely down. How did this happen?

I was feeling just a bit off that my plans for going to town were interrupted. Trying to sort out the rat’s nest of barbed wire was frustrating me. But having the men sitting only feet away, staring at me as I wrangled the fence was really irritating. I do not enjoy being watched while I work. Work with me, or go away.

Finally, I found the end of one of the wires. It was cut. I stood there a half a minute, considering the possibilities. I looked up at the men who were looking at me expectantly.

“It’s cut,” I said, somewhat stupidly.

“We cut it,” the one fellow replied.

How does one respond to that? I asked them why, of course. They said they were cleaning out the lots on the other side of the ditch that separates the two properties. There are two very small houses on this group of lots, but they want to sell dozens more lots and stuff the area with people.

In the process, they said some of our fence had crossed the ditch. I cannot remember that was the case. I talked with Lamar, and he feels that’s hard to believe. Nevertheless, the men said they cut a bunch of our fence to make their side clean.

And our cows got out. Okay… I didn’t have anything more to say. I set to work unraveling the fencing and stringing up a temporary setup.

As I worked in silence, I was fighting a tough inner battle. The men just kept sitting there, watching me struggle with the fence they’d cut. They had no remorse. And they were not offering any help. My attitudes were roiling.

Then I had the thought. This is not my fence. These are not my cows. This is not against me. This is God’s fence and His cows. These men are waiting to see my response.

Suddenly, I didn’t really mind the issue. Sure, I was delayed getting to town, but this is Peru–I’m delayed nearly every day for one reason or another. You can never plan to keep your plans. I guess that’s the only thing you can plan for!

I’d brought Shawn down with me to keep me company. As usual, he was singing at the top of his lungs. I hadn’t really heard him while I was inside my head. Now I started singing along with him, not nearly as loud but enthusiastically.

He was singing “Mis Bendiciones.” So we sang together about how we had so many blessings from God that we couldn’t even count them. After I started singing, the men all got up and walked off to get back to work.

Maybe it’s just coincidence, but it felt like they were waiting until the reaction came. I felt ashamed at how long it took me to give up my irritation and reflect the heart of Jesus. But I’m thankful the Spirit helped me through those tough moments.

I got the fence up enough yesterday to keep the cows in. Lamar offered to get Percy, the helper, to work on the fence, but I know how that could go–or not go. So the children helped me today to get the cut wire gathered up and to put up two new lines of barbed wire.

The fence is secure for now. I need to finish the next two runs of wire, probably tomorrow. I hope no one decides to cut that. But if they do, I suppose it can be sorted out.

The cut fence wire wrapped around our corner post.
Another cut section
Another cut section
A bunch of wire