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Guat 4 – First Glance

To give you a glimpse at what were experiencing, close your eyes and imagine this juxtaposition. Poured concrete sidewalks, a brick house with carpet and original wood flooring, families taking a drive to the grocery store, little boys and girls running around during recess and playing together. Now imagine dirt roads, corrugated tin used as a main house building material aside from cinderblock, dirt floors and a flap of fabric for a door, walking miles to the nearest tienda (small shop that sells junk food). There’s a 70/30 ratio of girls to boys because as early as the age of 7, boys are recruited to help their fathers work in the cornfields and the coffee tree groves and are presumed to work there for the rest of their lives- so education is more of an afterthought. Now imagine a travel brochure for Guatemala, lush green foliage, smiling faces everywhere you go, colorful native Mayan skirts and blouses, and the many mountains and volcanoes that surround the cities of Antigua, Parramos, and Guatemala City. Now add copious amounts of trash and waste thrown haphazardly into any valley, ditch or ravine and ash from Fuego on every street, household and crop field- killing everything it touches. That is the Guatemala that not many know about. Having been lucky enough to travel and experience many cultures in my life so far, I have been exposed to poverty- but nothing could’ve prepared me for this. Leaving the familiarity of the States and crossing the ocean to see the mountains and villages from the first time in the air, captivated me. I knew we were in for a life changing month when I looked out the window and could see the poverty from 10,000 ft in the air. All this to say, there is some sad truth in this country- the fact that more than 3,000,000 Guatemalans live daily without access to clean water, political unrest, residual tension from the civil war in the late 90’s – but there is also a lot of good. God is moving and grooving here in Guatemala, His love for the people is so prevalent and you can’t help but smile knowing how exciting this time is for both the missionaries here and the Guatemalans. To put this in perspective, the poverty line in America is anything below $30,000 a year. The poverty line in Guatemala is $5,200 a year. It took coming here to make me realize how lucky we really are. We always hear that- but do we really know the gravity of our situation? The percentage of Guatemalans who are religious is very high- primarily Catholics and few Christians- so the people are very receptive of hearing the Gospel. In our first week here, we have visited several villages and a school but in the midst of pure destitute, the people are thriving. Their joyful hearts even in their dire situations are such a positive reminder of how He moves and to stay humble.

 

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