Last month I went into the government office in Santa Cruz and applied for my very first passport. In the seat next to me sat a gentleman applying with his intended for a marriage license, the same spot I sat in to do the very same thing 7 years ago. She mentioned that she was originally from Guatemala, and immediately my ears perked up; My first trip out of the country was also to Guatemala.
I read somewhere that there are no real coincidences; these moments are simply reminders that you are on the path you were intended to walk. I often come back to those words in search of even a little bit of guidance when the world seems too large to lasso.
Last night I landed in Guatemala City with a group of incredible people that were brought together via their dedicated spaces on the Internet. We’ve joined to see and experience World Vision and the vast contributions they have made throughout this region and many others.
We traveled in a van through the uneven streets of rural Guatemala and I was particularly struck by two things: That every single person was working incredibly hard, and how the love that the people showed each other was in such stark contrast to the beaten walls they live amongst. Lovers with arms wrapped around each other’s necks, babies bundled closely to their mother’s backs, brothers clutching their siblings hands as they walked together. And then, as though we were being filmed for the silver screen, I noticed men on every corner gripping shotguns, clad in bulletproof vests.
We arrived at the World Vision offices and learned about their services and their goals. How there are 80,000 children in Guatemala alone who are registered with World Vision, four out of five of them malnourished. It wasn’t long before we were standing under a tin roof listening to a dozen of them play the violin for us while their mothers looked on, beaming. The Suzuki music lessons are just one of the programs that World Vision brings to these communities, a beacon of joy and hope amongst the squalor.
Our next visit was to Madre Marta’s, who had opened her home not only to us but also to other mothers in her community to share her knowledge about cooking and feeding their children better. There are few things in this world more devastating to me than hungry children and babies, and to be standing in their home amongst the flies and heat was a tremendously emotional experience. I cursed my indulgent tears but smiled at their beautiful faces while they said grace over their meal of rice and vegetables.
“Proof that God exists”
We were told that the children view their World Vision sponsors like comic book heroes stepping out of the pages and into their lives. The knowledge that someone that they don’t know and who lives thousands of miles away but is pledging in their honor is, to them, “proof that God exists”.
Yet, watching one mother weep as she is given three packs of vegetable seeds for her garden was, to me, the very same thing. These mothers are my sisters in a way. It was incredibly difficult not to don an apron and start helping in any way I could, as I would in my own mother’s home.
I feel in my heart that all of this is so much more than coincidence, and we’ve only just begun.