todas las estrellas: a lesson in faith as taught by the people of guatemala

At the beginning of the year, I was presented with an amazing opportunity to venture to Guatemala during Holy Week, where I could gain a bit more insight on how to more effectively deliver feminine hygiene kits to women in developing countries.  I penned this letter to myself at some point during my journey:

Dear self,

There is never an excuse to be unhappy, selfish, or lazy. The people of Guatemala have touched me in ways that I couldn't even fathom.  Someone stated at our debriefing session that, "People don't always fit their circumstances," and I couldn't find a better way to sum up the people of San Lucas Tolíman.  In conditions that are gray, dreary, and unlivable to most in the United States, the people of Guatamala have a continued aura of gratefulness and joy that wreaks through their pores.  I've witnessed people sleeping on box springs with no mattresses and no idea what's on the menu for the day who wake up with smiles on their faces ready to conquer the day.  A few days ago, we visited the women's center where I listened to a woman tell us of how she had to walk for miles on end to take her daughters to school because she couldn't afford to take a Tuk-Tuk, a motorized 3-wheel taxi service that costs less than 50 cents USD.  She explained that she comes to the women's center to fellowship and learn as well as do household chores.  She is unable to come in the rain because, with no affordable healthcare, she doesn't want to risk her daughters' health.  The crazy part is, she ended her statement by thanking God for the rain because she recognizes that it is so essential to her livelihood.  This resonates with me so much because, in hindsight, her problems make mine seem so minute and she still finds a way to have faith.  Her words let me know that, despite our circumstance, God's love flows equally through us all.  It's important that we trust in His plan-- without hesitance, and with 110% of our hearts (even when it doesn't make sense to us at the moment).  

The day after penning this note, we visited a middle class family who owned a candy store attached to their homes (sounds like every hood's grandmother, right?  Including mine).  The grandmother, Magdalena, is the sweetest person I've ever met and she cooked us blue tortillas, fried chiles, and homemade guacamole.  Best thing I've ever tasted in life.  As people helped in the kitchen (where I should have probably been taking pointers in hindsight), my job was to keep the grandkids busy.  Now if you know me you know that I DO NOT LIKE KIDS.  Well, I soon discovered that I DO NOT LIKE AMERICAN KIDS lol. There were 5 grandchildren and all were extremely receptive to us except for one, Lisa-Lindsay, more fondly known as Ellie.  Ellie was 7 and seemed to be the most independent thinker.  She didn't care that there were gringos in town who had first-hand knowledge of the English that she was learning in school.  Her and her Tinkerbell shirt were over our shenanigans, and she just wanted to play with her cousins.  I'm not sure exactly how or why she took a likeness to me, but children have this innate ability to read people.  As the day progressed, I learned that she had lost her mother within the past year.  Maybe she could sense that I had lost a parent young, too?  By the end of the day she would not leave my side and even took me across the street to meet her dog, dad, and older sister.  The kids insisted that we play School (where I was clearly the pupil learning Spanish lol), Gato, Gato, y Pato (Duck, Duck, Goose) and Freeze Tag on the roof.  I love a good game, so of course I was down.  I soon remembered that I am no longer as tiny as them when I was running in between a rebar-- a piece of steel bars used to add on stories to a home.  I had broken the bracelet that my grandmother got me from Paris that read Moi & Toi and there was now a gaping hole in my hand.  Now I am no stranger to blood because I've always been pretty clumsy, and you could tell by the way these kids took care of me: neither are they.  The situation left me thinking about the paradox that had just taken place: something so dangerous that would violate every safety code in America symbolizes hope for the people of Guatemala.  The rebars are a promise to expand your dreams, your wealth, and your family.  It says, "We may not know how or when it will get here, but we're gonna trust God that it is indeed getting here."  & That's the kind of faith I aspire to everyday.  

Toi Bly