Saturday, June 20, 2009

Memories of the dump...

This is the outside of The Tabitha House located in the dump area of Guatemala City. These children who are literally rescued from the dump daily have this view of garbage on the street.
A view of the dump where over 10,000 people live.
A mom who raises her children in the dump.
Houses are built on and around the dump with a maze of sidewalks and stairs that do not connect one area to another.
Houses in the dump are made from any scrap material available especially wood, tin and plastic.

An online friend recently asked me to share more about our time in the dump of Guatemala City. It is with a heavy heart, tear-filled eyes and lasting memories that I pen this post.

On Sunday afternoon our team gathered at the Baptist Seminary of Guatemala to discuss the ministry opportunities for the next day. Option 1: teach and lead children/preschool programs at The Tabitha House. It is located in the dump area and provides Christian training and childcare for women who are trying to escape a life of prostitution as well as their children. Option 2: Go into the dump, hand out food, and pray with families. Both places are in a dangerous section of town and we are forewarned of this many times. The dump is extremely dangerous Carol says and we don't need to take it lightly. She goes into details of the dangers involved. We pray and determine who God wants to go where. For the first day, none of the children with us (7 of them) will go into the dump. The adults will tread there first.

The dump group gathers on the steps outside of our room to pray. As we sit around, I look into the faces of JT, Susan, Leslie, Patty and Greg, and I see God's faithfulness. I see a group looking to Him alone for life. We fear not where He sends us. I pray that God will give each person a sense of peace and that He will show Himself in mighty ways.

On Monday morning God directs our group to the dump. We walk up and down stairs through mazes that ironically wind themselves through tin houses held together by a few nails. I see houses with no floors and some with see-through walls. Some even have no roofs. Many don't have water or electricity. If they do have the privilege of electricity, one or two light bulbs hang from the ceiling with exposed wires. Banners that we see at ballgames are the walls of some shacks. Children walk through the dirt with no shoes over piles of garbage. Mothers pick lice out of their daughters' hair and groups of men smoke pot outside of their homes. My heart aches for the hopelessness I see in their eyes and in their homes.

God directs our paths to the homes of women who are striving to seek God in their daily lives. I find myself wondering if my home...the comfort of furniture, electricity, running water....the support of family and friends....if THOSE things make it EASIER for me to trust God. Would I trust Him if I lived here? Would you?

The second day of our dump visits sees a new group going into the homes. Our group consists of Kathy, Rich, Patty, Brooke, Erica and Amanda. I'm excited about what God is going to do today. I'm a little more de-sensitized to the surroundings as I spent the entire day on Monday in the dump. Or so I thought. As we enter the first house, I see a mom who seems astonished that we are visiting her. She reveals that her life has been hopeless lately and she has been asking God to send her an angel. She says that God told her He would send people to her. We came. She thanked us for being the angels that God sent. Tears form in my eyes and I wipe them away. Surely, she is just mistaken. We are not worthy. We are not angels. But, the tears won't stop. I'm a counselor...I can handle these things....I doesn't work. I'm overwhelmed that God chooses to use us to minister to this woman in need.

Then, Carol tells us about the next place we are going to visit. It is just our group as she has asked everyone else to step outside. She tells us details of a family where the children are being abused. I ask the typical abuse questions to determine the level and extent of abuse. The facts are vivid and paint a picture of children in the midst of a horrifying situation. I cry out to the Father on behalf of the children...why? The group looses all sense of dignity as we cry together and as a family of believers. We call out to God for the children and beg for their release from this situation. We know that we cannot physically go on without God sustaining us. We are emotionally and physically spent at 10:00 in the morning. We cannot walk another step without God directing our path. We refuse to move until He moves.

He moves us, and we move on to see the family. God shows His mercy and grace as He reigns on high. We are overwhelmed by His love and grateful for the way He showed Himself to us. He alone is worthy to be praised. He is a loving God with a heart for the nations. He uses us to make His ways known on the earth and His salvation among the nations.

This is only a glimpse of the Father's work in Guatemala City. I can easily forget what I saw and experienced there. I pray that God reminds me daily of the sights, the sounds...more importantly, the people there. God is good, and His love endures forever.


Nancy said...

Makes me realize that I take every single thing for granted & I will also think of these things daily.
Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I went to the dump both days and I am still trying to get a grasp of the complete hopelessness and despair. Through our prayer, we witnessed two different demons cast out in two different homes. That's right, real demons with real control over real people. That could happen ten times a day in the dump. A lost world needs Christ and we are commanded to take Him to the nations. We need to be obedient to his Word. People are dying and going to hell and we should be horrified by this. If we really believe the Word of God and really have the Holy Spirit in us, then Why aren't we doing something??? What we saw is happening in a vast majority of the world. 30,000 children die everyday because of lack of food and curable diseases. 30,000. That number haunts me. We MUST begin fast and pray for the thousands who die everyday. I love you all and hope that we come together as the body of Christ and begin to obey and experience God, as He has intended. Dios te bendiga! Greg Brown