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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"Guatemala" by Carolee Villegas - June 2018

There are so many stories and experiences that surrounded us in Guatemala; the sights of a variety of lush plants in the jungle, the sounds of children laughing, different tastes in the food and so much poverty everywhere. One story that stood out for me happened when we went up to one of the villages high in the mountains. We had to get out of our mini-bus and ride in the back of a small truck to get there, hanging on as we bounced up the rutted dirt roads. I was glad there was no CHP to give us a ticket.

First we visited a small elementary school. There were maybe four rooms filled with desks. The books for the kids were moldy and crinkled. Outside the “playground” was a small uneven dirt space. There was really no place to really play and no slides or equipment of any kind. They did have a place to wash their hands and a boys and girls outhouse. The view was spectacular and the air fresh.

We went down a path to visit one of the families that lived below the school. Some of the kids were students. The houses consisted of one room built out of adobe with palm tree roofs. The kitchen was a separate space and more open to let out some of the heat and smoke. The floors were also dirt. Food was cooked by wood with some pots and a Comal (a domed pan perfect for cooking tortillas). Corn grains were soaking to be cooked later. A sweet old lady with few teeth was the cook. She welcomed us in while she was cooking some coffee in a small saucepan. I was broken by the experience. This small joyous lady was one year younger than I. She obviously lived in great poverty with little money and yet she wanted us to take a stack of tortillas with us. It was a great gift out of her poverty. I pray that God would give me such a generous heart. Would I be willing to give out of my meager supply? I have so much. Why do I hold on to it? Lord, let me use the abundance that you have provided me to help others and let go of the inessentials. I was reminded of Luke 21 vs 1-4 “And He looked up and saw the rich putting their bits into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all, for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

Another event happened as we were driving through the small towns. There were so many little rickety stores and cafes thrown up beside the road. They weren’t the nice stores that I am used to. They were built out of tin, branches and posts or poles. No bright colors or flashing windows with lights. I was struck with the thought that there were so many people living in poverty, trying to eke out a living and put food on the table for their families. We can’t help them all. Why should we even try? They are far away and it is a never ending job. They don’t even look like me and they don’t speak my language. How can I relate to them?

Then God gave me the thought that He greatly loved these people too. He sent His Son to die for them, not just for me. He placed me in a country where I never go hungry, where my house has heat and air conditioning. I have a car and a truck. I have access to education and I can read. Did He do all this because I am so special? I think not. He did this so I could do my part to help others. Jesus reminds us ALL THE TIME to reach out to others. He told us to feed His sheep, to give water to the thirsty. He gave us the familiar verses in Matthew, Mark and John: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your minds. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

We hear so much about making out country great for ourselves so that we can grow all our prosperity and abundance for ourselves. I believe that we achieve greatness by reaching out to others to lift them up, to help them gain education, clean water, access to food and healthcare.

Why do I need more pretty clothes while my sister lives where she washes her few pieces in the river? Why do I have to worry about eating too much while my brother searches for food for his family?

Lord, help me to look at others through your eyes and not look down at anyone through the scales on my eyes

This mission trip helped clear some of my vision. We also have opportunities to give to others closer to home. There is a mission trip with Reaching the Hungry to a Tijuana orphanage on Sept 29. You can go, or send items. Let me know if you are interested.

We have a mission team here at Valley Bible. Would you like to come help?

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Thank you for your words of encouragement. The Sales Family