Pastor Ron Burcham
I recently returned from a mission trip to Guatemala. Three churches got together and sent a team to help build three “houses.” I put quotes around houses because what many Guatemalans call a house we would consider it nothing more than a shed with a light. My garage is bigger than the houses we helped build in a small community called Los Limones. For the new owners of these houses, they thought they were mansions. Compared to what they were living in, it was definitely a big step up.
Seventy-nine percent of indigenous Guatemalans live below the poverty level. Poverty level in this country is earning $1.99 a day. One in two children are malnourished. In Los Limones, there is no running water to the homes, and the kitchen is a fire pit next to the house.
What I saw was incredible poverty, yet you would never know it when interacting with the people. I was in the country for nine days, and never once was I treated poorly. Never once did I have someone ask me for something. Never once did I see someone just standing around waiting for someone to help them. I am not saying that all of these things don’t happen, but they didn’t happen to me. What I experienced was a hard-working culture who cared for their families and had joy in their heart. At the house where my team was working, the father of the family worked harder than any other person on that house. When we arrived, it was evident that he had been hard at work for hours and when we left, he kept working. He wasn’t just building a house; he was building a home.
What could cause people living in such conditions to have such an incredible attitude? To have joy in their hearts and a smile on their faces? My answer came at the dedication of each home at the end of the week. Each family was thankful for what they had and not focused on what they did not have. Each family had a deep and abiding faith in God and expressed thanks to Him for all that He had given them.
“Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith…”(James 2:5)
I have related my story not to cause you to feel guilty about what you have or to have pity for Guatemalans, but to instill in you awe for the blessings God has showered down on all of us. I went to Guatemala wanting to make a difference in someone’s life; never did I imagine that the biggest difference would be in my life. What if all of us could learn from these three families; to be thankful for what we have and not focus on what we don’t have and to have a deep faith in God expressing our gratitude to Him.