Last Sunday morning we had a beautiful time of worship with out sister church in Guatemala City, New Jerusalen. A few minutes into the service, a Guatemalan woman came and sat in the empty chair to my left. It was Flor.
Flor's story is not one that is unique, but it is heartbreaking. Last year, on my trip down to Guate in July, I sat in her house and held a sweet little baby girl who was almost the same age as Eyelashes. At that time, she was only two months old. This little baby was Flor's granddaughter. To be honest, this baby had not arrived under pleasant circumstances. She had been created under the most vile of circumstances. But she was there, she was theirs, and she was loved.
It was providential that I met this family last summer. I have prayed for them daily by name. I have tried to follow them as much as possible through my contacts at the church. I even found out that the week after we had visited their house, they came to church and dedicated the baby. I knew things were hard for them, but they were making it. They had joined a faith family who had taken them in and offered support, a hand to hold, a shoulder to lean on.
And then the unthinkable happened. This precious baby girl passed away in May after an illness. She was 11 months and 9 days old. This family buried their baby on the Saturday before Mother's Day.
Devastation. Guilt. Grief. An opportunity for bitterness to take root and flourish.
Sitting next to Flor on Sunday and praying for her while she cried made me realize how incredibly broken this world is. Obviously, I have realized that before... But this was on a whole new scale. Not only is this world broken, but I cannot fix it.
A few days after that church service, I sat in Flor's house, listening to her grieve the loss of her grandchild. By God's grace, one of my teammates had just happened to join our group and was able to speak words of comfort and encouragement to this grieving family. He spoke words of hope that could only be uttered through his own grief, his own pain. After a time of prayer, I had to hug these precious ladies, walk across the dirt floor of their small home, and walk away. And walking away is so very hard.
One of the hardest parts of this mission trip for me is letting go and not being able to fix broken things. I'm a fixer by nature. It's what I do. If I see something that is broken, all I can concentrate on is finding a solution, calling the right people, providing the necessities so that it can be resolved. I have dealt with the inability to fix things before in my foster care journey, but this is on a much a greater scale... A loss of a child, the threat of eviction, not enough food to feed the family, the threat of danger on so many sides, a dirt floor, no running water, a house that could possibly blow away in a storm... The list continues.
There are so many things in this life that I just don't understand. Why are children forced to sell their bodies to help a parent get drug money? Why are there children who literally have nothing to eat? Why is it that there are parents who cannot provide for their children, no matter how hard they try? Why are there babies who are not able to be treated for leukemia because their families can't afford the treatment and they were born in a country that doesn't have programs to help them?
Unfortunately, this is life. For the majority of people reading this, this is not the life that we see on a daily basis, but it is life for billions of people around the world. These are battles that they fight every single day. Seeing these families is hard. Hearing their stories and being in relationship with them is even harder. But without the knowledge that there is another way of life... One that is not as comfortable or as convenient as our own.... We don't know the full story of what we're called to. We don't know our capabilities or who/what God may be calling us to fight for. In essence, we don't know who God has called is to be.
If you have never seen the poverty and daily struggles that can make life a living hell for these families, I encourage you to get out there. Sign up for a mission trip. You need not even go far. There are communities around this city that need the light of the Gospel desperately. So go. See it. Experience it. For you will be forever changed.
And if you have been, if you have seen it, experienced it... Then do something. Even if it's simply praying for the people that you met, do it. Never forget the faces. Never forget the stories. Keep them close to your heart. Bring them before the Father every single day.
To N and L, you have no idea how much God used you on this trip. You were used by our creator to bring hope to a desperate family, but you also brought hope to me as I stand on the edge of inevitable loss. Thank you. I love you both and I am praying for your family's healing.