Antigua Guatemala. Riding in the back of a small pickup to a mountain village where we will build three small homes. Cobblestone streets built in the 1500’s make photography challenging while hoping to stay on board. Lean over and lose your face on another vehicle passing from either way and any direction. In the States six feet is an encroachment. Here six inches is plenty of room. Our driver slapped someone as we passed by. Turns out they were friends.
Lesson: We use their tools to build a small home. In our culture we would find a way to use the best power tools to maximize our time and get the job done. Here we are willing to use their tools with our sweat labor and time (we don’t realize how much and how often we flaunt ourselves sometimes) in work clothes to present a family a home.
The cement is mixed by hand on the ground. With buckets of water gathered by the family they will have a block foundation and cement floor. They will have walls, a door, and a roof that does not leak or allow animals and other intruders. In the rainy season they and their few belongings can be dry. This home will cut down on disease by over 70%. This is but one step in helping the people of Guatemala as God’s Child organization will also continue to work with the family and the children.
“Extreme Makeover” of another kind. In the presentation the mother was able to say (through our interpreter) “I can only say thank you and then I run out of words because there are no words to express how much this will mean to our family and my children” and her sobs communicated beyond our language barrier. There are few times in life where we might communicate so deeply it reaches the soul and this time our souls touched. Everyone in the room felt it. It’s too sacred a place for words to go.
A local man came to our table at a restaurant one evening and thanked us for coming to Guatemala to build homes. “In this way you show God’s love for our people. They respect that and listen because you are willing to work with them instead of just sending money. Lots of people send money to help the poor. They will say thank-you without respect. You are willing to come and this they respect greatly. I thank you for my people.”
I am beginning to understand the depths of Christ’s Gospel which seem to only get deeper than our understanding can fathom. Words are only the outer shell that anyone can repeat and thus think they “know”. The embodiment of this Gospel is the blood, sweat, and tears from a heart of love where words should be formed from the inside and out to those around us. How much do we really understand the significance of the cross? Can Christ’s sacrifice be contained in words? Can believing in Jesus Christ be communicated in words only?
All we originally set out to do was raise some money, gather 17 willing people, hop a plane and spend some time building three very small homes for disadvantaged families. In reality we actually dove off the high dive into another world (our own Narnia journey) beyond words, where souls met in a tiny spot on the side of a volcanic mountain. Now we have come up for air. We are back in the world of words and catch phrases and wonder if it was real. Did that family really take their sleeping blankets to make a place for privacy in the toilet area? What if we don’t remember our thoughts and feelings? Can I just punch the people who want a 30 second “how was it?” I do remember and understand more what St Francis of Assisi said “preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.”
In the words of one of our team members “we are like little kids just off their first ride…Again. I wanna go again.”