by AMG International Staff
What is it like to live in a home with cardboard walls? We found out in Guatemala.
Our team was in Guatemala to distribute Bundles of Love (AMG's specially selected packages of Christmas joy that include items selected to meet the individual needs of recipients) to needy boys and girls under AMG's care. AMG Missionary Bob Hastings offered to take a few team members to visit families of AMG-sponsored children. Bob advised us to leave any jewelry or other items of value behind; the neighborhoods were very poor and dangerous. I was both excited and a little frightened.
Our group was small but conspicuous and included three national workers. As we made our way on paved paths and dirt tracks, some children stared at us, probably wondering the same thing we were. "What are these Americans doing here?" A few followed us. Some greeted us, and some giggled and ran away. We were definitely the main attraction.
Stepping around trash, dog waste, and questionable trickles of water triggered a host of emotional responses from our team. We were happy to see children playing, even though they were dirty, poorly clothed and some were sick. But we could not help but wonder, "How safe are these children, and who is protecting them from the evil of this world?" Some of us were frightened when a group of boys shot a bottle rocket at us. Others were saddened to see the meagerness of people's homes-thousands of shacks made of cardboard, corrugated sheet metal, or cinder block.
We came unannounced but bearing small gifts of candy. A 13-year-old opened one door and let us into the house. She and her four younger brothers were thrilled to see us.
The house was one room with a dirt floor, cardboard walls, and a tin roof. We could only imagine what the rains and winds from a hurricane just a few months ago had felt like to the children of this house. The furnishings were meager. Clothes were tacked to the cardboard walls, and a few Christmas decorations hung from the ceiling. There was no stove or refrigerator. We could smell that they had no bathroom, and soon realized their "bathroom" was an outside patch of dirt shielded by a "privacy" fence.
Their mother soon came home, and we wanted to know some of her story. She was 28-years old and had lived in that property all her life. She had her first child at 15 years of age, and now has five children. When asked what she did for work, because there was obviously no father around, she simply said that she sells things.
We visited more homes and found all their stories to be the painfully similar: generations of poverty, disappearing fathers, and lack of good-paying work.
Words truly cannot fully convey our experience. AMG's outreach in Guatemala is truly making a difference among lives that otherwise would not have hope.
Though they live in wrenching poverty, their only real hope is the same as ours-an eternal hope. As we took in the sights and sounds of the people, God reminded us that even though they seem poor, they can still be rich and have immeasurable treasure, "Did God not choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" (James 2:5)
God gave me a unique opportunity ever so briefly to walk where the poor of Guatemala walk every day. We found reassurance that our prayers can be realized, that these children would one day be godly men and women. Their growing hope in God finds realization as God's people get involved through sponsorship and hands-on involvement through AMG's ministries.
Thank you for investing in the life of a child. You will never be the same!
From Mission Advance, June 2008
Visit www.amginternational.org for more information about what it means to sponsor a child,
or to begin your investment in the life and future of a child.