Where’s the bathroom?
OK, you are really excited. Your family has been invited to dinner at your friend’s house. In your rush to be on time, your daughter left the house without going to the bathroom. As embarrassed as you are, the first thing you do when you arrive is ask, “Where’s the bathroom?” Simple question…right? You would expect something like this, “Go down the hallway, when you get to the end, it’s on your right.” Instead, you hear, “go outside, walk until you find a bush high enough to stand behind, then use the ground right below you.” What would you do? Tell your daughter to “go find that bush”? The truth is, as Americans, we would be shocked. Unfortunately, that is the everyday reality of life here. Every time they go to the bathroom, they have to find a place outside. The fortunate ones have put a few pieces of metal around a hole behind their house. But, not for the family we are building a house for. When we showed up on Monday to pour the base of her new bathroom, one of the guys on the team asked the mom, “Where does your family go to the bathroom right now?” Her response? She looked out to the field in front of her shack and just nodded in that direction with her head. In other words, “wherever I can find a place.” Well, we were about to change that.
When we found out we were building a house for Etelvina and her children, we were excited. The personal story we were told pulled at our hearts. Until you actually get to Guatemala and meet them, you really don’t know the full story. It’s impossible to find out everything. There is so much pain here. There are so many tragic stories. Despite that, they smile so much. They laugh, sing and praise God for the few things they do have. I did not know what to expect with Etelvina. I knew she had at least two children, Rosemary (15 years old), and Antony (12 years). I wondered, “What would they be like in person? Would they stay at a distance while we were there? Would they talk to us when we asked questions?” When we pulled up to the house, I had all those questions answered immediately.
As we walked up to their house, Etylvina walked right up to all of us and began to give us hugs. She immediately began to praise God for the fact we were there to help her family. She welcomed us as if we were family. At that moment, I felt they were family as well. Rick had purchased some fresh tortillas to give to the family. We also bought some drinks as well. After giving us the tour and us realizing they did not have a decent place to go to the bathroom, we were motivated to get to work. Pastor Juan showed us where Bethel had paid to have the toilet hole dug next to the old house. It is a very deep hole. Our job was to construct the footing which the bathroom and toilet would sit.
Every year, it is so cool to see how each man on the team has different skills to offer. This year, one of the men is Dan from Iowa. Dan is in the landscaping business. We have been impressed with his knowledge of the local trees and flowers here. He is our resident arborist. What I did not realize was how skilled he is at taking what supplies lay before him and turning it into a work of art. He and Pastor Juan jumped right in and stared building the footing. The hard part was, the bathroom was on the side of a hill. They had to build up the entire bathroom using blocks. They were a great team. Rick began cutting the block and rebar that they needed for the footing. Gale and I worked with Chris doing what I love best…mixing concrete! It’s hard for you to hear my sarcasm. For some reason, I always end up with a shovel in my hand. It’s actually rewarding…just tiring. The cool part was, all of the family helped us…the entire day. Etelvina has a sister who lives close. She showed up with her children. So, two women and four children grabbed shovels and moved dirt. They also carried very heavy supplies. They smiled the whole time. Give them a task, the kids ran with purpose. They also had a dog. Not very helpful, but very cute! Many of you will remember that several years ago we built for a family who had a dog named Rambo. Rambo was not so nice. He had to be chained. Every time I would walk by, Rambo would try to take a bite out of me. Fortunately, this dog likes people and does not want to eat them. Good boy!!!
I brought an external speaker to play music. I played Christian music in Spanish for quite a while. I then played it in English. All of the sudden I heard a woman’s voice singing in Spanish. I looked over and saw Etelvina singing along with “Come Thou Fount” in Spanish. What a sweet voice. I filmed her singing. There we were, two followers of Christ standing on a hill in Guatemala enjoying the praises of God in two different languages. Does it get any better than that?
The most heart wrenching moment happened when Chris Mooney’s son-in-law “Saul” pulled up with all of our building supplies. We began to unload all of the metal, food, stove, etc. One of the last things to come off of the truck was the mattresses that will go in their bunk beds. As the mattresses came out, one of the girls standing there began to cry. She knew what the mattresses were going to mean to her family. Three mattresses, three bunks, a soft, comfortable place to sleep, a pillow to lay her head on… no more dirt!
While the project took a lot more time that Chris projected, the bathroom footing was complete. We will put the walls, door and window on today when we build the house. All of the kids had to go to school, so it was only Etelvina with us when we were leaving. As we walked to the van to leave, she gave each person a hug. I was the last one to pass by her. As we began to hug, Etelvina began to cry. She squeezed very tightly. She began praising God. She knew the gift was from the God who loves her. These are the moments I love most. Getting to be a part of God blessing people. Getting to feel the hugs and share the joy.
We then went to eat at my favorite restaurant in Guatemala. Fresh tortillas and guacamole…delicious! We then headed to install the stove at Iliana’s house. I will let you read her story in the other blog post. Please read it. She really does need our help!
Thank you God for allowing us to be here. I praise you, and give you all the glory. It’s all for Your Name…it’s all for Your Glory!
Dios te Bendiga,