Thursday, October 16, 2014

Guatemala, October 11th-17th, 2014

Orchard Hill Community Church, Victory Life Church & Friends

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 121

This place, the malnutrition center, it really isn't a place that you can put into words. Yes, yes, I know that many people say that about any number of things or experiences, but truly there is no adequate explanation I could give that would allow you to feel the joy, the hurt, and the love that is ever-present in this place.

I can show you pictures. Ones like these:

Or these:

Pictures of the children, the staff, and the team, living life with one another. You see a lot of smiles, and that would be because joy here abounds. Yes, the Lord's goodness is TANGIBLE here! We have seen walking talking miracles, we have seen the amazing changes that are happening in the center itself, we have fallen asleep to the rainstorms in the mountains, met people we cherish, and received more love than we could give. The Father is so faithful to His children. For example, today I asked one of the Ducks (the group of older boys) if he knew that Jesus loved him. He just gave me a little patronizing eye roll and smiled sweetly and said, "Si..." It is a testimony to the movement of the Spirit that this little boy could have known so often and so well the love of the Lord, that it seemed so ridiculously obvious to him! How could God not love him? Amen little Duck! God is good, and that is evident here. 

However, there is a lot that is not seen in the pictures. You don't hear the cries or the laughter, you don't smell the flowers or the diapers, you don't taste the food or the water (which you shouldn't anyway), you don't feel the hugs or the kisses- you just can't glean from sentences and snap shots what the experience of being here would give you!

One big part of what is gleaned from that experience is the understanding of what it means to be content. Paul talks about this in Philippians when he says, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." There is a secret my friends- a true secret involved in learning what it is to be content.

I struggle with contentedness, and I would say that I am in the plenty category of Paul's statement. Sure I'm a grad student and money is tight sometimes, but in general, life is overflowing with blessing and sustenance. Yet when I come here, I see contentedness in the hearts and lives of the children, people, and teams in the Center. I don't mean all they do is smile and never want anything. But there is a certain contentedness that I do not always exude in my own life. There is need here. I have seen it at the Center- families bringing in their children for lack of enough food to live. Children sick and dying, hoping with all hope to get well- and these are just to name the basics. Every time I come to the center I am sobered into realizing how much excess I have in my life. My prayer has become this: may it never be said that I had excess of anything that I did not seek to share. So how, in the midst of this deep need, can there be such contentedness? 

I think that goes back to that secret I mentioned... The secret told to us in 2 Corinthians 12 (another gem from Paul):
"But He [God] said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you...'"
Grace. God's Grace- that's the secret. After all, with God's grace, what can't be done? What can't be provided? What do we need but God's grace? The people here see that and know that. They feel it in the loving embraces and the warm winds. We feel God's grace in the plates of nourishing food and in the newest and weakest child to arrive at the center.

So take a deep breath and be content; you have what you need. God's grace abounds.

-Laura C

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