This past week I was blessed with the opportunity to travel with a team from Canada to a rural village here in Guatemala, called El Limon Sur. The team came to work through a local organization called Healthy Communities.
It was such a beautiful experience and I saw so much benefit to the work being done. Healthy Communities works through the local church to educate the community on basic sanitation needs. They do no look to just come into a community and meet the needs, but more importantly they look to provide a sense of ownership to what is being provided. For this reason, any family that is being blessed with a water filter this past week, was required to pay a small subsidized fee. They were also required to show up and provide a day of work to complete the project. What has been discovered over the course of time is that if a water filter is to be maintained and used well, the person being gifted with it is more likely to do so if they have worked for it. A concept that goes against most of the work being done in the villages of Guatemala today, but a concept that erases a handout mentality, and enables people within the community to change their situation through sacrifice and hard work.
I was able to play a small role in helping translate for the team. What blessed me more than anything though, was being allowed to observe life within the community. A community with no running water, no toilets as we know them, and most of all, no clean drinking water. Due to the lack of toilets, the only drinking water available to the community, is the same water many bathe in, and many use as a restroom. For this reason, a lot of sickness has been brought to the people.
During my short time in country, I am learning about what effective change is. It is not a 5 step program, rather a continual re-enforcement of what it means to have clean water, wash your hands, etc. What value is in change, if this is how you have been doing it your entire life?
How similar is this to our Christian walk? For so many of us, when we came to know the Lord, the change was so drastic, and the value was evident. But over time, we would slowly go back to our old ways, and before you know it, we would be living the same life as before we were Christians, but would be holding on to the "Christian" title to avoid the reality of our life of sin. As I look at my own life, I see a constant fall back and forth. Sometimes we don't want help, and sometimes we are desperate for it. Those times when desperation hits, are the times that we will work for change. No matter how strong your Christian walk may be, we all go through it. We all need re-enforcement on a regular basis.
So what makes us any different? The fact that we have the luxury of clean water, or a nice cold toilet seat to sit on every night? During my observation of the community, I was blessed and reminded of one thing. To strive to live a life where I will stop worshipping my luxuries, and start praising for my needs being met. Although the people of El Limon are drinking dirty water, they are thankful to have water. Although the people are having to use the restroom in a dry-compost toilet, they are thankful to have a hole to use. And although their situation isn't as nice and convenient as ours, they are people, and they are happy.
How can we change our world? By doing what we can. And doing it effectively, through Christ. What ever it is that the Lord has in store for us here in Guatemala, I pray that I will run from the concept that I am a hero, and I will embrace the fact that I am an avenue that is being used to show Jesus.