bus stopped on the highway and a Guatemalan man was waiting for us
in the rain. Seven of
us, two K´ekchi and five Americans, got off and began trudging
through the mud towards his home.
We passed the usual chickens, houses, cows, turkeys, piglets
and dirty children with no shoes before we got to his house.
It was a stick structure with a dirt floor.
The roof was made of palm fronds.
We tried, somewhat senselessly to wipe the mud off of our
feet before entering the home.
We greeted the dying man and his family.
was lying in a hammock and there was a special fire burning by his
bedside that had been made on the floor.
We were told he was 63.
He was very thin with sunken cheeks and weathered skin.
His hands were like a paper dolls, so fragile and small.
He couldn’t speak but communicated to his son that he
wanted to be moved to his small bed close by.
The bed was a wooden plank on four legs.
It had a piece of cardboard on it for a mattress. He
was easy to move because he couldn't have weighed more than 85
lbs. As he was placed on the mat, he sighed. His son
tucked his body under a light blanket.
women of the household stood back near the wood burning stove,
looking both curious, pensive and grateful for our presence.
In this moment, I thought about the future of this
family. How much income had they lost with this loss of
health? How many people was he supporting and would they be
able to manage with only the son's agricultural income? Was
our presence a blessing or only a cruel reminder of the wealth they
don't have? It was in these thoughts that I heard someone say,
"Oremos" (Let us pray).
we did. We all stood around him and his warm, small fire and
prayed - like the K'ekchi. We all spoke aloud our individual
prayers to God for him and his family simultaneously. There
was a hum of K'ekchi, English and Spanish. After the amens, we
each took his hand or touched his shoulder gently and said goodbye
and things like God bless you. At times like these you realize
these are the most sincere words you can think to say. I was
also reminded of words like mercy, compassion, and loyalty. I
hope he is resting now without the worries of this world but in the
glory of the next.
so it was the smallest of unplanned moments that made this trip
special for me.