I spent last week on a mission trip in Guatemala building two houses and feeding and loving children. What an experience!
I think the only way to process through something like this is to take small parts at a time, so I’m starting with the home building because that’s how our work week started. Our large team was split into smaller groups so we would have room for getting work done. On the first day I was on the shopping team, so we got to consider the needs of the family and shop to help furnish the home…the 12′ x 16′ home (I believe I have the measurements correct). A bunk bed was already being provided, so we purchased a table and chairs (plastic), sheets for the bed, a broom, a trashcan that could be securely closed outside the house, and food basics for a month (as well as some cookies and flavored milk drinks for the two young kids), toothbrushes and toothpaste (brought to our attention as a need from the previous team’s trip).
On the second day, I got to be part of the build team, after hiking up a steep hill in the high altitude we were not used to. Since these houses are not very big, we can build them in one day on a concrete slab previously poured. They are made out of corrugated steel, have two windows, and a front door. To us, they appear to be one room sheds. To many people in Pastores, Guatemala who are living below the poverty line, they are answers to prayer, protection, security, and fresh starts. You should have seen the tears of joy in the faces of the homeowners when we did the house blessings at the end of each build, and felt their arms embracing you as a thanks.
Now, to put this into perspective.
As I sat on the couch last night, in front of my big screen TV, I glanced around at my surroundings. I’ve been in this house for over nine years now, so I don’t always remember to really look at it. But I did last night, and I asked my husband Robert, who was also in Guatemala with me last week, the size of those homes. We contemplated the size of the homes we built and the size of the “liveable” or air conditioned space in our own home and realized we could fit nine of them in our house, not including our screened-in back patio and two-car garage. Our house is by no means big by the standards of the US, but our master bedroom, not including the walk-in closet or enormous (and recently remodeled- see previous post “Serenity Now”) bathroom, is the size of those houses. And here I am always wanting to do this to my house, or do that to my house. Now I just feel happy that my toilets are inside and flush.
I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty for having a nice home. If we put it into perspective it isn’t quite fair to do that as cost of living and lifestyle should be based off where you are… but here in the United States, we are truly blessed, and I just want to help people to be more thankful for what we have here. Take nothing for granted.