The days in El Rosario start out pretty much the same for everyone. Mom gets up to make a fire for breakfast. Dad gets up to get ready to work in the blackberry fields. Eventually, the children crawl out of bed and stumble to cocina for coffee and tortillas. Sometimes there are beans. And sometimes, but rarely, there are eggs.
The kids don’t rush in the morning. It’s early and they’re procrastinating on the chores they have. They’re putting off bringing firewood in. They’re putting off washing breakfast dishes. Mostly, they’re just tired.
Luis and Kleiver walk to school every day. It’s just over a mile so they leave the house at 7 to get there when school starts at 7:30. Their clothes are worn. Their jeans have holes in the knees, probably from soccer. Their shirts have holes. Their shoes have holes.
As they walk to school with a group of boys, they all smile and laugh. They tease each other and for a little while, they’re like any other kid in the world on their way to study that day…fueled with coffee and tortillas.
By now, the giant is awake. How do you slay a giant you can’t see? Where do you hide when there’s nowhere to hide? I have to imagine Goliath seemed impossible to take down. I can imagine the fear of Israel.
This last week I visited 3 families I didn’t know. Each family was fighting. Their necks were under the giants boot. There was no way out. There was no way to defeat the Philistine. They were tired. One family had given up and had begun drinking alcohol. Their kids were left to fight the enemy alone.
It was while visiting this last family that I finally recognized the face of El Rosario’s Goliath. It’s the same giant that moves across all the villages of Guatemala.
The giant is POVERTY. And this is what it looks like.
– Working all day to earn $6.
– Feeding tortillas and coffee to your kids for breakfast because you can’t afford eggs, oatmeal, fruit or anything nutritious.
– Having to walk 2-3 hours a day, every day, to gather firewood. Or you don’t eat.
– Not having $5 to pay for school tuition or $15 for school supplies that will last the whole year.
– Praying for rain because the fields and crops need it but fighting the rain as it pours through the holes in the roof that needed replaced years ago.
– Cooking in a smoke filled kitchen three times a day not realizing you’re cutting your life by 10 years. Not realizing it’s like smoking a pack of unfiltered cigarettes, with your little girl at your feet, three times a day.
– It’s waiting for 8 hours at the national hospital just to be seen and then given a prescription for pain medication and vitamins.
– It’s not being able to pay the $12.50 to see a private doctor who will tell you what’s really wrong.
– It’s when 30% of the kids that start kindergarten don’t graduate from the 6th grade.
– It’s not being able to pay for your son or daughter to go to the 7th grade.
– It’s having to make the decision of which meal you will feed your family that day because there’s not enough to feed them breakfast, lunch AND dinner.
Can I be honest? As I re- read this list it frustrates me. It pisses me off. It pisses me off because it doesn’t have to be this way. Every year I’m in Guatemala the more and more disappointed I am of the life I had in the States. I used to earn $80 an hour. Most men earn that in a month in Guatemala. When I took my wife out to a nice dinner, we would spend $60…EASY.
This is what $60 buys in Guatemala:
3 large bars of soap to wash clothes by hand
1 bag of powder soap to wash and soak clothes
3 lbs of apples – super rare treat
ALL THAT for the privilege of going out to dinner…because I deserved it. Right? I EARNED IT. I WORKED HARD.
God chose Esther to live inside the palace gates just as God chose you to live within those gates.
“If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
Pick up a stone. Throw it at the giant with everything you’ve got. You were born in the States for such a time as this.
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