Monday, June 29, 2009

Pueblo Nuevo - Day 1

Our first day in Pueblo Nuevo was an incredible day. We left Antigua and traveled about 30 minutes through the mountains and several small communities to meet the Tulio family who is currently living about 5 minutes outside of Pueblo Nuevo. On our way there, I was a bundle of nervous energy and cried off and on during the entire trip. Fortunately, there was one person there that kept telling me that I wouldn't be able to talk if I were sobbing (Jeff!), which made sense so I was able to keep myself under control. But I was so happy to have arrived at that point that crying happy tears and keep praying was all that I could do. When we arrived at the Tulio's home, we were welcomed by Pastor Marco, his wife Leddy and their three children. From the moment we first introduced ourselves there was an instant connection for most (if not all) of us and we knew almost immediately that we were exactly where we were supposed to be. We spent the morning talking with Marco and Leddy (with the help of Marleni with Servants 4 Him) about their personal needs, their ministry needs and the needs of children and families living in Pueblo Nuevo. We learned quickly that one of the biggest problems of children in the area is malnutrition (as it is in most of the country) and many of them eat only when they attend the children's program which is held 3 days a week. This means that many children in the village eat only 3 out of 21 meals a week. We knew this before we arrived and it hit us hard when we heard it from the Tulio's, but we would not be able to imagine the severity of the issue until the next day.

After discussing every thing that needed to be discussed, the Tulio's showed us around the community they are currently living in (which is also an area in great need) and then we went to spend time in Pueblo Nuevo.

My heart sank the moment we arrived. It is a very quite village...much different than the loud and lively Antigua that we had all grown accustomed to over the last couple of days. And it is a dreary place. Dirt roads lead to tiny tin and cement block homes built on the sides of mountains. Stray animals that are skin and bones wander the streets in search of a morsel of food. At first glance, nothing appears to be beautiful. There is no color. There are not many people spending time outside. Few cars and trucks are driven through the streets because only a handful of people own vehicles. There are no children playing and there is no laughter. The people that do walk by do not smile. Stores are closed and the few that are open have no business. There are no restaurants and I suppose you could call the one or two small shops that were open grocery stores, but it doesn't matter because no one has money to shop anyway. Unless you travel the dirt paths through the hills of Pueblo Nuevo, you would think that the village is dead. Life and laughter hides there, in the hills, in the mountains, under lush greenery of flowering plants and trees.

We found life in two young boys that were playing on top of a tin trash can. This is their one and only toy. They are shy children, but full of laughter and they love to play by climbing on and off of the trash can. Their clothes were filthy and their shoes are worn to the point of being useless. Just as many other children in Guatemala, they are malnourished and rarely eat any thing more than tortillas and beans. We found life in a teenage boy standing against a wall. I do not know what he was doing there or what he was thinking, but he just stood there, with nowhere to go and nothing to do. The Tulio's know him and they spoke with him for a moment. They reassured me that he was OK, but I had my doubts as we walked away. We found an elderly couple working hard on their home made of tin and a widow washing her clothes. We found life as we walked down a steep hill to meet a family which consists of three mothers and seventeen children. This family lives in a home that consists of 3 tiny tin and cement rooms....two are living quarters, one is kind of a kitchen/eating area and the sink and bathroom are outside. We spent a little time with this family and while we could not believe that so many people (especially children) were living in the condition they are, we know that this is all they know and that they are happy, regardless of being hungry. We would see several of the children the next day at the children's program. While we made our way back up the hill God made it very clear to me that in that moment, nothing else mattered. He could have told me that making sure only of those children eats throughout her childhood is my reason for breathing and that would have been OK with me. I have never said that we are trying to save the lives of children and I never will because I firmly believe that we are not saving their lives...He is and for all that we do He will receive the glory. I have said that I want to work with children around the world, but for the remainder of the trip and even now, He could give me the revelation of purpose in working with just one child, one person for the rest of my life and I would gladly do it because just as during my time in Guatemala in 2007, I looked into the eyes of these children and saw Jesus. He is never more clear than in what I hesitantly call "the least of the these". We saw Him that day in hungry children, in a sick widow, in a fragile elderly couple, in a mother that has lost too many children, in a pastor that is trying to bring people to Him, in mothers that work harder than anyone I know and that is without going to an actual "job" and in fathers that all but non-existent. We saw Him and I am sure that I am not the only one that asked herself, "What are we going to do for Him?"

I spent that night reflecting on the day's events with the confidence that God knows what He is doing and that He led us to the right place to begin our outreach program and ministry. Anxious to start the next day, I finally drifted off to sleep. Their faces filled my dreams. Their laughter filled my soul. I began falling in love with a village of children that day and it began really sinking in that night as I slept. Life. Love. Happiness. You may not be able to see it there at first, but if you dig a little, look closely and listen carefully, you will find it and it is so powerful that it is overwhelming. Next post....details from Day 2 when life comes out in the open in Pueblo Nuevo for the children's program.


Vanessa said...

Thanks for sharing your inital thoughts of this village and I can't wait to see how the rest of your journey has unfolded! It's so overwhelming to see the dire need in the eyes of these children!! I'm so glad God has lead many back to help His children! I know I have seen His hand on the work I'm trying to do and I am so excited to see where He leads me next!!

jajbs said...

Okay... after seeing the pictures of these precious people again, there is TRULY a driving force pushing me back. Tonight, as I sat in the theatre, looking at fb and seeing the pics, I had this overwhelming feeling that if I don't get back soon, I will explode!