Sunday, June 1, 2008
A clean cardboad shack
Blog Buzz question of the week: Put yourself in the place of a person who lives in extreme poverty. Write your feelings, fears and daily life struggles.
Since I first found Red Letters I've been thinking about my time in Guatemala. The second semester of my Sophmore year at MSU, I decided to take time off school (I'm still working on that pesky degree) and go work with a ministry in the Guatemalan Dump. The woman who ran the ministry often used the phrase "the poorest of the poor" when talking about the people who live there. The six months I spend working with them, changed me in so many ways.
To answer the buzz question, I guess I have to say that I can't answer it. I can never fully put myself in the place of one of those dear people that live in extreme poverty because I will never know physical hopelessness like they do. The hopelessness that I found in the dump was unlike anything I will ever know as a middle class American. Those poor people have little to no hope for their lives changing. They live day by hoping to find some "treasure" in the trash that will help feed their family. The depression that they face as they daily move among the garbage is almost tangible. They wake up to trash, sleep in trash, watch their children play in trash... Not only is living and working in garbage bad enough, the heaps often ignite sending horrible fumes into the air that these amazing people cannot escape from.
I could go on and on about my memories from the dump, but I won't. I will say that a person who lives in extreme poverty faces hopelessness every moment of the day. That is a feeling that I can't imagine. The shining light in all of this is that there is hope in Christ for these people. 1 Samuel 2:8 says 'He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.' In the life ahead, they will inherit an awesome throne. I can't wait for that day.
Hope for them doesn't have to only come in heaven. I have seen people who live in the garbage dump changed through Christ's love lived out through people and even though they have not been able to move out of the dump, Christ in them has changed their view on life. They have hope. Hope in knowing that even though they struggle, they do not struggle alone.
Seriously, I saw change hope made in people. Some of the shacks that I would visit of women who had been a part of the ministry for years were spotless. The house may have been made out of tin and cardboard but it was more tidy and organized than my brick house often is. The point is, that people helping really does make a difference even if it's one shack at a time.