In the last blog we shared pictures and impressions of our Spring Break trip to Guatemala. Aside from the stunning beauty of the country, the culture and the people, we have been asked why we decided to visit Guatemala over Spring Break. Let me explain.
Quite honestly, I never thought I would visit Guatemala until about a year ago when we started to really entertain the idea of taking our kids on a missions trip to open their eyes to the realities of life for people in developing countries. We have done work locally to help the less fortunate within our community; serving meals to the down and out, volunteering out time or sharing our resources. We thought the kids were ready for something a little more outside their comfort zone and we sought the expert advice of the good people at FH Canada.
FH CANADA: HELPING PEOPLE HELP THEMSELVES
Food for the Hungry (FH Canada) is a NGO (non Goverment organization) based in Abbotsford with offices in different parts of the world (including Guatemala) and their purpose is simply stated: to end poverty one community at a time, with the promise: to graduate communities from poverty within 10 years. FH doesn’t just come into a community, give hand outs, try force changes and leave. FH partners with communities who invite them to work together to identify and solve issues and problems faced by the particular community. FH believes in child focused community transformation realizing that children are the future; if you help a child and his or her family the whole community benefits.
We were sold on the FH model and ideology and planned this vision trip. Guatemala seemed the perfect fit for our young family.
ENTITLEMENT MAKES US SQUIRM.
As a family and as business owners we feel very grateful for what we get to enjoy. Sadly we sometimes witness glimpses of entitlement and it kinda of makes us squirm. Our children get to enjoy a level of comfort far greater than what I experienced as a kid. My clothes were hand me downs or homemade, the big holiday was a local camping trip, the milk was powder milk or milk from our goats, the meat was Spam from a can, the food often had passed it’s expiration date, the fruit and veggies were the ones the market would not sell due to bruising, the house was a rental and the one the kids at school made fun of, the haircuts were sometimes done by Mom who put a bowl on our heads and cut…bowl cuts.
But life was fine. Yes, I envied my friends lunches and wardrobes and holidays and homes and haircuts but I realize that all the living with less makes me REALLY appreciate all I have and enjoy, but more importantly it makes me realize all the STUFF is not what brings you joy.
I did not have all the best of the best but I did have a family that loved me, a roof over my head, food in my tummy and clothes on my back. Today I am especially grateful for all that I have. I feel so blessed; overJOYed…and speaking of joy…
FINDING JOY IN GUATEMALA!
JOY is what we found among the indigenous Guatemalan people living in remote mountain villages. Their homes had dirt floors, there houses were more like one or two room huts that housed over a handful of relatives, their wardrobes were limited, their toys were improvised from trash, their bathrooms often non-existent. Seriously, they didn’t have much but those faces and hearts were so full of JOY.
They were thrilled to have us visit, show us their homes, the kids excited to meet their pen pals from across the world. The mothers welcomed us and sat down with us while the fathers were off at work; they bragged about their children and shared their hopes and dreams for health and education…much like the dreams I have for my own children. We live worlds apart yet have so much in common.
By our standards they have so much less than we do and yet they were so gracious to welcome us into their homes and spend time with us. And in their faces and through translated conversations we realized there riches were not in material wealth but in their attitude.
WHAT DID OUR KIDS THINK?
I must admit, I was delighted with my kids…it wasn’t your typical spring break trip but they loved it. In fact, only a few days into the trip the kids were asking if we could move there for 3 months or a year, that’s how engaged they were with the people and the project.
The weather was cool and rainy, the walks were muddy and the drives were long, winding and nauseating. The food was different and the snacks were few but they still loved it. Their highlights were interacting with the kids; playing sports and games at the local school and meeting their sponsor children/pen pals and families.
They give this Spring Break trip a thumbs up.
WE WERE REMINDED TO COUNT OUR BLESSINGS!
Every morning after devotions and before we set off to explore Guatemala our guide reminded us to look for riches and not poverty. Every evening we sat around sharing highlights of our day and countless examples of the riches we saw and experienced.
This practice translates so well into our own lives…every day we could focus on the negatives: when things don’t go our way, when we don’t get the stuff we want, when we lament what we don’t have or resent others who have what we want…what a downer. Life is so much better when we focus on the bright spots and count our blessings.
We have SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR…perhaps we have TOO MUCH when we compare to the realities of some of the people we encountered on our journey. Their riches were not material possessions but rather in their attitude of gratitude and hope.
Sometimes life is funny, you may set out to be a blessing but find you are the one who receives a blessing.
Thank You FH Canada, Bernie, Kimberly, Kelia, Kathryn and everybody else!