I recently returned from a trip to Guatemala which has provided me with a deeper perspective on my life and on the culture in which we live here in the United States.
Our hosts at Iglasia Shalom were wonderful people, and it was a pleasure to get to know a number of people during my visit to Guatemala City and Antigua.
In visiting a few families in the steep and hilly slum area of Guatemala City called Paradise (pictured), I was humbled to realize how blessed a person I am, and how much I have. Most of these families live a life with little hope for anything, and merely subsist in tiny concrete block and corrugated tin dwellings stacked precariously on top of one another.
Meeting many of the children was a joy. Despite living in poverty they are still children, and a smile, or a hug, goes a long way. I spent some time with my new friend, Christopher, who never knew his father and at some point lost his mother (I am not clear on the details). Although he spoke no English and I spoke no Spanish, we had a great time playing together, and sharing a meal together. We had a particularly terrific time making sculptures out of candy, each of us trying to outdo the other. Already I miss Christopher, and look forward to seeing him again someday.
On Monday we spent the day providing new shoes and socks for more than four hundred of these children. I spent the entire day washing filthy, sometimes sore-ridden feet. This, too, was a humbling experience, but the smiles on some of these kids provided me with priceless moments of joy, particularly when washing the feet of the ticklish ones.
Visiting Antigua was one of the highlights of the trip. An old Spanish town in a valley surrounded by smoldering volcanoes and high mountains on which coffee and avocados are grown, Antigua has been destroyed a number of times but still manages to thrive.