Joyful Fellowship in Guatemala (2)
At the village Nueva Covadonga, Jim and Glen, two young men spent lot of times playing with the little children of the village. Their mother side grandmother came to USA from Guatemala. These two young men were so happy to see the root of their mother. They became friends with the Guatemala boys and girls instantly. They played soccer with them and many other games. However, playing soccer in the heat was only possible because they were young. All the adults were sweating a lot inside rooms. I drank constantly bottle water and sweat. I did not have to go to bathroom because I lost too much liquid in other way. I admired Jim and Glen for their love for the children and for their energy. They did everything that we need. They carried heavy bags up and down; they did all the chores for the adult team members. Still they laughed and played without ceasing. Their playfulness was a source of joy in our team.
The joy was also found in the hearts of the village people. Even though they did not have enough food and clean water, even though they did not have convenient modern facilities, they did not lose their human dignity and joy of life. They loved each other deeply and kept the value of family. We could feel their love for each other and their joy in their hearts. In our reflection time, many of us shared the same feeling. In USA, in the middle of material affluence, we still have hunger for the genuine love among people and feel lonely. However, there in the village of nowhere people had a family where love overflowed and a community that cared for each other. At the second day evening, we were working late serving many people. It was getting darker when we packed and left the community. They surrounded us and gave thanks to us. They could not give any gift wrapped in a wrapping paper but they did give us gift of love. They thanked us with their heart. I offered the prayer of blessing: “O Lord, bless this town Nueva Covadonga! Make this town a model town in Guatemala and make these young children the leaders of Guatemala. Let the water be clean as their hearts. Let the medical service be available 24/7 in this town. Bless their descendents! In the name of Jesus we pray! Amen
I remember the prayer of Dr. Underwood, who came to Korea as a missionary. He said, “O Lord I cannot see any light here. It is dark. I cannot see the heart of the Korean people. I do not know why I am here and what to do. Show me your way! Keep my faith and Help me! ¨ One hundred years after he offered this prayer Korea has become one of the noticeably growing countries. I believed that same thing could happen for Guatemala. Even though we could not see any reality right now, I could see hope and vision. They had young leaders like Carla and Angie, who founded Living Heritage Foundation. They had love for each other. They had hospitality and vitality. They had joy and hope. On top of that, they had faith in God, who created them and cared for them. They worked hard and diligently. What else do they need?
On August 4, we moved to a new village called El Bochal. Because we could serve only one day in that village we started early. 6:30 AM we were already running. El Bochal was richer (?) than Nueva Covadonga. Our translator Angie said that El Bochal was 25 years old village while Nueva Covadonga was 10 years old. That made difference. El Bochal was more organized and cleaner. The school was ready to be transformed into clinic. The bathroom was much cleaner. They were outside of the school building of course. We could see little worms down there but they had at least doors and 4 walls around the hole (!). Women volunteers still had hard time going to bathrooms but for men it was heavenly!
The town brought me my old memory of my youth. The outhouse looked just like the one that I used when I was young. The houses looked just like the houses that I lived when I was an elementary school boy. The town women breast fed their children in public and my mother and grandmother did the same thing. I do not remember exactly since when the Korean women hide their breast in public but when I was young it was so natural for any woman to show their breast to nurse their children in public and nobody thought that she was a shame. The only problem was that average women had five or six children to feed and the most children had to yield mother’s breast to the younger siblings too early. They did not have enough nutrition and were always hungry. We saw a mother pig lying down on the ground and five piglets were sucking the milk from mother together. We did not have such luxury(!). So we run after Western missionaries and Army soldiers asking gum or chocolate. Sometimes they gave toothpaste and we did not know what it was. We wondered and tasted it little. Then other children shouted, “Do not eat all you alone! ¨So, we took just small portion of the toothpaste and ten or twenty children in town shared it like a candy.
When I gave out gift packages, school supplies and health kits, I remember all those things that I had forgotten. At that time, I was at the receiving end and now I was on the giving end. At that time I did not realize that the givers also had problems and limited resources. To me, it looked like that they had limitless resources. However, now here I was at the giving end and found that I did not have enough gift packages for everybody. I had to stop giving to save half of the package to give out to the next town that we would go tomorrow. When I had to say, No Mas (no more) they just accepted my word. However, I knew what they thought. They would think that there were still plenty left and something was wrong and I stopped giving. They would not understand that we were also humans who have weaknesses and limits. We are not saint and angels. We are sinners just like you! We are just redeemed by the blood of Jesus and blessed by God and called to do this mission! (To be continued)