Friday, July 27, 2007
Guatemala Journals 2
Two days of class already.
Two days of kids' huge smiles and confusion.
On one hand, this VBS thing feels like a joke..that we're reading from a script: a very boring script read in a bad Spanish accent. But then, I'm glad they're here, even if they're bored. I'm glad they're here and not on the street with gangs. And I'm glad we're here.
There's so much to reflect on..what's happening in and outside of my heart, but even now I'm torn by needing to plan today's VBS lesson!
We went to homes yesterday...the home of 2 of the program participants. We prayed before we went as the area is unsafe (yet these girls walk there very day). We journeyed through what seemed a labyrinth of narrow passages leading steeply down, then steeply upward, passing ladies in traditional Mayan dress carrying large bundles on their heads. We past a place where several people have been killed. The 12 of us journeyed, not the least bit out of place, I'm sure. We carried crates of food and supplies for the family: items like rice, coffee, sugar, fruits, vegetables. We got strange looks from neighbors and gang boys, "maras". Their imprint is unfortunately on this community we ventured through, where families are looking for protection and hope amidst near squalor.
The father of the home we visited is a fledgling pastor - he has a church of 17 which is very close by. I gather that more than a third of the congregation are his family members. The family is living on the mother's meager $250 /month salary she earns at a clothing factory. This can hardly support a family of 7. We did not get to meet her, I believe that she works until about 3 am.
The family welcomed all of us so graciously, directing us to sit on their neatly made beds in the living room: One double bed, fit for the 3 boys and a set of bunk beds, presumably for the girls. A few steps beyond in the concrete block home with steel sheet roof was another "room" which seemed to double as kitchen and master bedroom, as I noticed a small bed in the corner and had not yet accounted for where the parents might sleep. The girls served cold cola to us..likely a rare treat for them. It was a treat for us on that hot day in the stuffy confines of their humble home. The father spoke to Sara, one of the ministry staff, about their struggles as a family, about his story, past, reasons for lost job, but most of all about how good God has been to him and his family, and how he trusts the vision that God has given him for a church. I translated when I could, and strained to hear the words of this man who has experienced so much in life already.
The eldest girl showed us a family album - maybe the only pictures they have. The collection, carefully placed in a tattered, old 3-ring binder also contained certificates and diplomas belonging to the various children for school awards, baptism, etc. The pride with which the eldest girl she displayed the worn album to me was truly delightful. I gazed at the aged photos of her father in "el campo" with his field-working buddies, her baptism photos, a few mugs family and friends and was thankful for that insight into their world.
I'm so glad to have gotten a small taste for the very difficult, yet genuine lives of this family. To accept their graciousness was humbling. We prayed for the father, for his strained relationship with his wife, for his church, and for the children to be good students. They are a lucky number to actually have their father around. Most families in zone 18 have only mom's or grandmothers, and the men who are present in most children's lives would be better off not around, based on the heart-wrenching stories of violence, alcoholism and prostitution that I heard.
*Photos Courtesy of Lynn Henry*