Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 4 - at the zoo for the first time

local colors

Emma at school

Our room. Two kids down, two kids up and us parents on the other bed

"Puedo tocar una foto?"

Police/military patrolling the streets. Many stores (like McDonald's) also have their own private armed guard.

Crowded central american town streets. I wish you could hear the noise and smell the pollution...

Guatemala City main artery

At the zoo

Public restroom at the zoo. The sign says: "Urinate here". Water flows down the wall to flush

It is a first class zoo (Pepsi sponsored)

American school buses turned into public transportation. There are thousands, everywhere...

getting ready to leave the house in the morning

Today is the first day I have the brain power for writing and not just for absorbing... The impact of the poverty is indescribeable, particularly in the village where Gregory and Anita have their clinic. The clinic itself is like an oasis of white walls and tile amidst a forsaken village. Hands of Hope (the name of the clinic) is such an appropriate name. For surely that spot brings dignity to the tragic lives of these Mayan Indians - God's poorest of the poor.

As I was attempting to sleep last night, I kept scrolling through the filth and dirt and horses stall like conditions these people live in, wondering how God can stand it, how they can stand it, how generations have gone on and on like this. My heart ached, and at the same time I felt numb over the impact of it all. I knew there was no answer or way of understanding God's wisdom amidst such horrid conditions. And then, a reflection passed over my thoughts, like a gossamer, and I realized that Christ, our Lord, was actually born in filth, near a horses stall and set in a trough instead of a cradle, with no heat, running water or a "proper roof", much like one little Mayan baby we saw rolled around in a rusted, broken down wheel barrow, or the newborn baby we visited in one of the many shacks. WOW. He dwelt among us! He dwells among "them/us" even in our most wretched states. I thought, "If our Savior and Lord chose that to be his entry into this world, then he does intimately love the poorest of the poor." In other words, they are not forgotten or forsaken, no matter how bad it looks. They're dignified by the way Christ became incarnate and chose to live His life - by the Christmas story itself.

The next day, day #4, I was able to look at the Mayan men, woman and children in a different light. I felt less pain. I was able to observe their individuality, their smiles and simplicity as we bumped along together on a crammed school bus going to the Guatemala City Zoo. Norine
(more about that tomorrow)

In fact, our friends organized this bus trip for 56 children, who had never left their remote village. Guatemala City is surrounded by mountains. It is loaded with roars of old engines and bus horns and crowded streets. You can see and smell the smog very distintively.
Our friends live in San Lucas, 45 minutes away (when there is no traffic). This is the last town, on this side of the city with regular stores and some acceptable houses. Our friends' clinic is in a village about 30 minutes from there. Until last year it took an hour or more, but the road has been paved most of the way there now. The roads go up and down hills which are probably 20% incline. The population is completely Mayan. Latinos consider them like 3rd class citizens, so most people are scared to leave their village. Apart from having clothing, a light bulb in their shack and possibly running (cold) water that reaches one faucet, they are really still living like their ancestors did 1000 years ago: muddy streets, ceramic pots, cooking on wood, often sleeping on the floor etc.

Norine's reflection's above about the similarities of their circumstances with how Jesus was born 2000 years ago is surely the most important lesson we have learned so far and one that, at least for me, has never really been possible to grasp. We have never felt so close to Bethlehem.


guido said...

Carissimi, ancora grazie dei vostri scritti. Normalmente si dice che i figli hanno imparato (?) dai genitori, ma noi, in verità, stiamo imparando molto da tutti voi. Nelle foto non c'é quasi mai Paolo, é stato rapito ? Un grosso bacio a tutti. Dio benedica voi ed i vostri amici Anita e Greg.
papà e mamma

Maddy said...

Wow that is soo kind of you to take 56 children who had never been out of their village to the zoo!!!! I cannot believe that many children have never left their village! Thanks for the blog so I can see what it is like in Guatemala. Also thanks to Isabella for keeping me updated through her e-mails!!

Peggy said...

I love your beautiful reflection, true....I think God is present to these beloved poor of His through your hearts and hands and those of your friends who run the clinic.
I bet they will never forget their day at the zoo as long as they live!!! You are doing a great job there! I praise God for your love and generosity...Love,Peggy, grace and Lilly