Posted by Rick
I woke up this morning with a part of the song Home on the Range in my head. Random , yes. (That's how my brain works). But as I thought about it....I think I know how it fits....the two lines somewhat correlate with the week.....
"Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day"
In reverse....."and the skies are not cloudy all day"....I am always amazed at the immense beauty that God created in Guatemala! Guatemala is known as "the land of eternal spring" The temperatures are so pleasant! We wake up to a chilly 40ish temp, and experience 70's in the afternoons. Each day we observe the beauty and power of volcanoes!
Not just pretty hills, ones that are active. They remind us as they puff smoke. Sometime big blasts shoot hundreds of feet into the air!
We also observe tree covered mountains. Much different than Iowa! As an Iowa farmer I am amazed at the contrast in agricultural practices. Where in our area, fields are large, often 100 acres plus. Whereas around Tecpan, the tracts are few acre plots. Corn "hill planted", snow peas, blackberries, asparagus, melons, potatoes,green onions, and cabbage are crops we have seen daily. The families we have worked with work on these farms. Many work 3 maybe 4 days a week as day laborers. Generally they make $ 2-5 /DAY!
Another agricultural contrast is where they farm. Yes on the plains between the mountains, plot after plot of the various crops create a "quilt-like" patchwork of fields. But, the biggest contrast appears when we go deep into the mountains. The crops are still planted in tiny tracts, but they are on EXTREME slopes! But like at home they do know the soil is a valuable "God-given resource", they plant across the slope, and build terrace like silt fences with corn stalks they harvest.
And "the skies are not cloudy all day". Guatemalan weather has been beautiful all week. We have experienced some dense fog, which created some eerie beauty as it makes the valleys lined with volcanoes look like a lake of clouds.
Once the clouds burn off, break out the SPF 50 sunscreen, because at 8000ft elevation, the sun has POWER!
"Where seldom is heard a discouraging word"....
This week we are experiencing extreme poverty, chronic malnutrition, and many would view what we are seeing as a hopeless life. But as Scott expressed last night, these Guatemalan people deal with some of what we deal with.....how to balance life and work. We American are blessed. Blessed with comfort. But with our comfort, we create compounded stresses. Cable bills, car payments, house payments, the list goes on and on.....our lifestyle complexities create stress. What is first in our lives? Sometimes it appears that money is the Lord of our life. To many it truly is. What is more important? What is necessary? Here, they struggle to balance simply to work to survive, to eat, to have shoes, to maybe send their children to school. It is a simplistic struggle. But I wonder if the people we have ministered to this week probably would look at all the things we deal with somehow feel sorry for US! We are crazy. Blessed, but crazy. We all have discussed at how we admire these folks. While they have NOTHING, many are RICH. Rich, because they have Faith. They survive on Faith. It is the Lord in their life, we have seen it. Certainly, this is NOT a "discouraging word".
A VERY encouraging word we have seen this week are the families. I'm not sure if it is because we are in a tight knit, remote mountain Mayan village, but we have been helping COMPLETE families! WOW! In years past, a vast majorities of the homes we have built, stoves we have provided, and food bags we have distributed have been to abandoned families. The dad leaving momma and the kids for a new woman. Maybe it is the influence of the life in and near the town. In contrast this week,we have worked with complete families. Dads in the home! Dads who love their wife and kids!
Honorable, hard working men who are struggling to provide for their families! We wondered if the remoteness and sense of community being tucked into these mountains is the reason for the intact families! Whatever the reason, Praise God!
Years past we felt we were standing on James 1:27 :
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
While we still do, it has been encouraging that we have not had to deal with the abandonment or death of the spouse!
It has been an awesome week! 10 men. 1 native Guatemalan, 1 American missionary , 8 men from 6 states all coming together from vastly different lives and careers to serve the Lord together. We all will have to dig deep to process all we experienced. So much emotion, and things we can't imagine have been experienced. At the end of the day each of our hearts and lives will be affected. Al in different levels and ways. We all are BLESSED to have had this week!
2 Corinthians 9:11 :
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
God is GOOD !!