Heavy black exhaust fumes are unwelcome visitors barging in bus windows we have quickly opened to escape the heat. We are two hours from the Guatemala City airport and there’s no quick way out of here.
We are officially committed on a nine-day course.
Our tag team of new age missionaries has set out to make monetary modifications; while our first visual encounters threaten to submerge us in a sea of hopelessness. Poverty has clearly permeated every community in this war-torn country. So, in self-defense, we make jokes about the “chicken bus,” the obnoxious horns, and the extra-large Taco Bell.
Still, it’s hard to ignore the little tin huts and greasy auto repair shops that are all around us as we head deeper into the abyss. The obnoxiously rude blaring bus horns continue to assault the senses and the smell of blackened filth seems to sit all around us.
Just as the sun is setting low over our arrival in this third world country, we pull into the place that will be our refuge. There is barely enough light to see and a hot shower is considered a luxury. Even when we have hot water, it is so contaminated we are warned not to get it in our eyes or mouth.
The temperature has dropped to a brisk 54 degrees with a noticeably cooler breeze blowing. The rain started, but quickly stopped, and everything feels just a little damp. It might dry out in the heat of tomorrow, but more than likely another little cloud will drift in again.
Yet, we feel incredibly blessed.
We were expecting much worse conditions.
Our guard goes down and we settle in.
Morning comes with hot pancakes and coffee.
Our arrival is anticipated in the Guatemalan village of Patzicia where their reactions, and ours, are mixed with apprehension, anticipation, and excitement. It’s a pleasant place with happy home visits, a few minutes at the market, and a spontaneous soccer match.
We are good to go on.
Bland refried black beans for the next breakfast, with grainy unseasoned corn tortillas, signal that the trip is about to change. Our initial introduction into this mission is finally morphing into the real reason we are here. Happy home visits segue into an introduction to small hidden huts not fit for human habitation.
They are homes for families with five or ten children. The despair runs deep. The necessities for their existence are lacking at every level. Our hearts sink. Our emotions steel. We take inventory of what we have to give and we get to work.
Prayer is priority as our God sees and He knows and He is able. We dole out compassion, understanding, encouragement, and love. We offer up hugs, and smiles, as laughter seeps through the cracks and out into the courtyards.
God is in this place.
And, he has more for us to see.
Up on a remote mountain, where we experience a million miracles just riding safely in that chicken bus, we see and smell a society so far removed from our own that we are stunned!
Children, under the age of five, are dying here in San Antonio Nejapa on days when the smoke inhalation is more than their little lungs can filter and fight.
We are anxious to help solve this unnecessary situation and we set about installing new
The inventors of this quickly assembled contraption should be honored at the city gates, as they have been given the great gift of God’s wisdom.
We are humbled.
Truly humbled to help.
Our iPhones are pulled out of pockets and backpacks for the sole purpose of taking pictures so this moment of meeting on God’s terms is recorded outside of our hearts for others to see.
We have to share their story. We have to tell about the stoves.
They are not expensive. In fact, their affordability is astonishing. Who among us would not give $110 to save the life of a child?
Time is running out.
It’s not the setting of the sun, but thick white clouds coming down on the mountain that send us back to our weeklong refuge.
The revelation of all that we own will be a bit more relevant tonight. We gather together around a fire to sing praise songs, share stories, and make plans with a new purpose.
It doesn’t have to be us. It can be anybody. It can be you. There are volunteers trained in the art of stove assembly. They just need people who are willing to pay for the life of a child.
We walk reluctantly back to our rooms.
There is still barely enough light to see.
We know that a hot shower is a luxury they have never had.
“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward them for what they have done.”
— Proverbs 19:17
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