Scott's Entry #14
"Open My Eyes"
hopped off the plane loaded with suitcases and expectations.
There were twelve of them in all. Though an Okie to the core, I was
happy to see these folks from my newly adopted home state of
Texas. I said hello, and watched as many of them greeted our
coordinator, Noe Sam, like old friends. (for more pics, click
had come for a 10-day mission trip to Guatemala. This was not
their first time here. Members of churches from Mission
Presbytery in South Central Texas have been coming to work in the
western highlands of Guatemala for around a decade. In 2000,
they formalized a partnership with CESSMAQ, the social and community
development organization for a group of churches in the indigenous
Maya Quiche Presbytery.
Presbytery in Guatemala
there were a handful of them who were volunteering in Guatemala for
the first time. Thankfully, the "Guatemalan Wake-up
Call" was waiting or them when they arrived. They all
knew the comforts of home had been left behind when they were expected to cram all of their baggage and bodies
(15 including myself, Noe, and the driver) into a glorified
Bill Buys Pants
A Graduate Of The Sewing Academy
It was a bonding experience to test the limits of our preferences of
personal space and anti-perspirant. The good news is, everyone
passed with flying colors, though Ed is still trying to unfold his
legs now two weeks removed from the experience.
were three main objectives for the trip. The first was to
distribute some 600 pair of reading glasses to remote villages in
the highlands, as well as the coastal region. The second
objective was to discuss CESSMAQ's further development needs, and
ways in which the churches in the U.S. could be involved. The
third was to follow up on past projects, such as the sponsorship of
a typing academy in Tzucubal and a sewing academy in Sohomnip.
work began as soon as the group arrived in the first
community. Though the group as only there to check on the
sewing school they had funded in previous years, the local villagers
were lined up after hearing that North Americans were in town with
armloads of reading glasses. So... change of plans!
After an official welcome to the community, the group coordinated
themselves and distributed over 100 pair of glasses.
Though there were some worried faces, and others praying that Jesus
might work some kind of "loaves and fishes" miracle, there
was no doubt that this community was grateful to receive "new
The People At
was amazing to see women who had been unable to sew for decades
finally able to thread a needle. Others ran straight for their
Bibles and began reading. Most people wouldn't consider this a
miracle, but I think it is. Jesus cured the blind. And,
while these people were not blind, they were in the dark.
if the only trade you knew was fashioning blouses and other clothing
using a needle and thread - and this was suddenly taken away from
you. You now have very few options for providing for your
children. Imagine if you lived in a place with very few visible
signs of hope, so the Bible was your escape - your salvation from a
life of heartache and dispair. Now imagine you weren't able to
read these words that had provided you with such inspiration.
To these people, a $2 pair of reading glasses can be the difference
between hopelessness and happiness.
that story continued in 11 more communities. Again, in some of
these places, the group had come for reasons other than distributing
glasses. But, when the people arrived with hopes of better
vision, plans changed. What is amazing is that it wasn't until
the last village that the group ran out of lenses.
more, in each community, the volunteers were able to see things more
clearly as well. We are all accustomed to seeing the poor in a
"receiving" mode, taking any handouts they can get.
Instead, in every village we were greeted by people with open arms,
offering us their food, their hospitality, and their respect at
every turn. There was Rudy in La Estancia, the man whose
12-year old son has to work every day after school making scarves to
help the family make ends meet. He freely gave everyone in the
group a scarf as a sign of his gratitude. Then there was
Miguel, the community leader in Chuisajcaba who traveled six hours
round-trip, and sacrificed a day's wages to come and welcome the
group, and discuss his vision for his community.
were countless other examples of generosity that were
displayed. It is overwhelming. However, on a trip to
distribute reading glasses, it is fitting that eyes were once again
opened to the wonders of God's work. Small acts of kindness
can make a big difference. Whether it is a pastor doing magic
tricks for kids, or a group of churches agreeing to sponsor a
project to provide food, as well health and welfare education to 300
children, God leads our actions when we take the time to open
our eyes to his will.
appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this mission with fellow
Texans. Little by little, groups like this are making a
difference in this country and others, and the people here are oh so