Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Real people. Real lives.

My heart is shattered in a million pieces. It is always like this...shattered...but while going through pictures and trying to decide which ones to post, I can just feel the emptiness even heavier where half of my heart is supposed to be, but isn't. I knew that being back in Pueblo Nuevo in October was going to result in 1 of 2 things...this trip would be the deciding factor...either we would have to start looking for another village to work in after December or serious connections would begin to be formed and I would know that there is no way AAB could leave this village. Obviously (and thankfully), it was the latter that happened. I was talking to a friend last night about this...about how incredibly attached I have so quickly become to every single person in Pueblo Nuevo, whether I have met them or not. Some of them are Christians, some are not. Some of them have fully embraced us, others are unsure about us and want nothing to do with us because of fear. But every one of them, from the youngest orphan to the oldest widow, is someone.

I have been reading a lot this week about something that has been on my mind lately. Numbers are everywhere. Statistics are thrown around more and more it seems. I admit it. I talk about statistics often. When raising awareness about the world's orphan crisis and shining a light on the lives of those living in Pueblo Nuevo and throughout Guatemala, especially when talking to people that have no idea of what is really going on in the world, statistics are necessary.

But they are only numbers. From the aritcles and a few blog posts I've read over the last week, it seems that many others feel the same way. It is such a relief seeing others that peel the numbers away to see what really exists.

Walk through the mountains of Guatemala (or anywhere else in the world). Look into the eyes of a child that hasn't eaten in days and unless you feed him, he won't eat for days more. Hug a widow that is so frail and so ill and has just walked for miles, there and back, in the hopes of seeing a doctor at a medical clinic in another village, but didn't make it in time. Hold a child that believes you are there to kidnap him. Provide vitamins to a nursing mother and watch her face as you tell her that those vitamins will help her and her baby be healthier. Give out the most basic supplies...hygiene items and OTC meds...and see hardened faces turn to joy. Tell a father that even though he doesn't believe it, God loves him and his children and that you are there to share that love, no matter what. Visit a family of 6...a mom and 5 children. These are the fatherless and they are everywhere you look. They have absolutely no hope which shows in the emptiness of their eyes.

Once you see it, you know that they are more than a statistic.

To me, they are the other half of my heart. Again tonight, as every day, I am longing to piece it back together. To be there, loving them and working until I am too exhausted to take another step. To be there, with my family, knowing that we will be there until He sends us somewhere else. But for now, I know that this is where we have to be. I always knew that this is how it had to be. Our trips this year and next are for two reasons...to start meeting some basic needs and to begin building relationships to establish trust. Both are being done. This isn't temporary. This isn't us swooping into a village, taking over for a while and then leaving without saying a word. This is a slow process of getting to know them, of hearing their stories, of learning the very best way to handle their individual situations, all the while beginning to help in whatever ways we can.

And still, my heart aches as we wait for the time when these faces will be the ones we wake up to see every morning... These are pictures from our day of visiting families and distributing supplies in Pueblo Nuevo.

A precious 18 day old baby. She had not been named yet...I can't wait to learn her name in a few weeks. What a blessing it was to us to be able to provide her mom and all pregnant women and nursing mothers, that we spent time, with prenatal vitamins. (Pictured with Kori and the baby is Leddy...wife of Pastor Marco Tulio that leads the children's ministry.)

A typical bedroom. I believe this is the only bedroom for a family of 9-10 (correct me if I'm wrong, girls). Obviously, most of the family has to sleep on the dirt floor.

Oh...this woman is incredible. Her tears of joy as she received a variety of supplies really touched our hearts.

This belly isn't because he has plenty to eat. So many children in Pueblo Nuevo, like all of Guatemala, are suffering from malnutrition. This is a REAL CHILD, not a statistic.

Before the meltdown...seconds later he began sobbing. After a few minutes, we realized (with some translating help) that he believed that we were there to take him from his mom and bring him to the U.S. Proof that the rumors still exist, that the children are being told and a reminder that SLOWLY establishing programs there all the while returning often to prove our reasons for being there is only because we truly love them is a must. (The cautious adoptive mom of a Guatemalan child came out in me here and we left quickly...I am praying that our visit in December will be a little easier for him.)

I have no idea where he had been, but I am almost certain that he had probably been working in the fields instead of attending school. A sad reality for so many children.
Approaching the home of a family that isn't fond of Christians. I was told that this particular family has been persecuted by other Christians in Pueblo Nuevo. They used to attend church occasionally, but they have been mocked and harassed by a number of people in the village because they are among some of the poorest people in Pueblo Nuevo...no running water, no toilet, etc. Because of that, they do not trust anyone and stay to themselves, rarely leaving their home in the mountains. We told the father about the children's ministry and asked if he would allow his children to come that evening. We were so excited when they came. They were probably there just because they knew we would feed them, but they heard about Jesus that afternoon, as well. Of course we are praying that this is just the beginning for them. We certainly will not give up and will be visiting with them in December as we provide them with a food basket, more supplies, Spanish Bible story books and shoes along with another invitation to the children's ministry, as we will with as many other families as possible.

Their dad...

So much love! This is a widow that is very sick, severely malnourished and just in overall very poor health, but her spirit is so joyful. I have no idea where she lives because we met her when we were about to leave Pueblo Nuevo and she was returning from trying to see a doctor (which didn't happen for her), but I am determined to find her in December to at least provide a little help for her desperate situation.

Finally....Dana. (in red)


C said...

Pictures truly are worth a thousand words!!!


Tera said...

Wonderful photos!