As our programs and our efforts in Guatemala have grown over the years, we have decided to bring on a full time person to join our U.S. team and help us make an even greater impact there! We have had the very great fortune to find Rachel Easley, a young woman with great vision, significant international experience, solid education but most of all, a heart and mind centered on making this a bit better world every day.
She came with me this past week to Peten and below are some words from her about her first experience there.....
"I could feel it when I first arrived: something special about the SewHope clinic. Ismael had picked us up at the airport and driven Doctor Anne and me here, and as we pulled into the gravel parking lot I tried to find a good word to describe this feeling.
“Is there a word for ‘home’ in Spanish, different from ‘house’?” I asked Ismael. He didn’t know an equivalent.
There’s something in the atmosphere here that feels like walking into your home at Christmastime, where the warm envelopes you as you step in from the cold and a fire is crackling and someone is baking cookies and all of your favorite family members are laughing and talking and playing board games. Except it’s hot and humid here, and maybe drizzling, and there are no cookies, and I’m new here so everyone is a stranger. But the feeling remains.
Then I walked through the clinic and saw what Ismael and Anne and all the others involved in SewHope had built: the multi-colored aisle of exam rooms, the school children engaged in their lessons, the new hostel for hosting groups, the papaya trees and mango trees and rows and rows of peppers and cilantro and heirba mora (a local plant). I feel a new word now: Paradise.
Here the sick are healed, the hungry are fed, the illiterate are educated, and the poor are given opportunity. Like Paradise. Like Heaven, maybe.
Except not always. Not every sick person who comes here can be healed. A good meal at school doesn’t fix a broken family at home. Sometimes the neighbors burn their land, and the smoke kills our crops.
So not Heaven, not yet. If it’s a Paradise, it’s a messy one.
But there is something Special here, some sort of mending of the rift between Heaven and Earth. Here it seems that the Kingdom of God is not so far away. It’s here in our teacher Seiner, as he loves and guides and instructs each of the children who show up in his classroom, regardless of where they come from or what their home life is like. It’s here in the hands of Elder, who works in the gardens, as he tills the earth, and carefully tends the chickens, and teaches the women from the community how to plant and weed and harvest. It’s here in our nurse Mayra, as she greets patients affectionately, and listens to their needs, and offers healing and comfort and medicine. It’s here in our director Ismael, as he coordinates programs, and supervises staff, and drives the “school bus” to pick up kids who live too far away, and takes care of visitors, and watches over the whole operation like a proud father (and does a million other things!).
I do believe that someday Heaven in its entirety will come to Earth: there will be no more sickness or broken families or violence. But for now, this is our imperfect Heaven, where we work hard and pray hard and love hard. A little broken, a lot beautiful: our own messy Paradise."
Thank you Rachel for your willingness to help us spread a little more peace, love and understanding in a part of the world that has been so oppressed for so very long....we thank God for bringing you to us!