We are truly in the thick of it now. The days have been long and fulfilling, and the relationships we have been building alongside our stoves and the school have made their impression. The group has bonded with each other and with the community, but not without its tax. We are tired; we should be expected to be tired. Being a human being in community with another is exhausting. What we are doing isn't easy and doesn't come without sacrifice, but we shy away from recognizing that sacrifice. I am proud of the group for being so selfless...I am humbled by their casual politeness--I have been on the receiving end of great compassion, and it seems endless. This group of people is not unlike the people of Guatemala.
Last night we were invited into the home of Andres, a man of sixty with the heart of a seventeen year old. He was a weathered man with callused feet and hands, and dust smoothed the wrinkles of his knuckles. Andres spoke heart-to-heart and I don't imagine that was unusual for him. His story told of his strife, but it was not about his suffering. "Passio" in its archaic form means "to suffer," so when you feel passionate about something, you suffer for its cause. Andres has a passion for Guatemala unlike any American has for the U.S.. He is not under the illusion that his country is the pinnacle of success, as many of us are. He is just the opposite: Andres knows his country is tainted by social injustice and for years he has fought hard to correct it. Andres was a victim of an unfair finka (or plantation) and he suffered through years of abuse. He did not suffer alone and has not forgotten those who were more severely abused than he was. Those people are still with him everyday. He left the finka and worked tirelessly to ensure that no one would suffer in such a way again. Andres works so hard for others and the work lifts his spirits. He feels closer to God by doing this work and he glorifies God in all he does.
Andres exemplified wisdom. In my life, I often mistake knowledge for wisdom, but the two could not be more divorced. Andres helped me understand that knowledge means nothing without the experience of making mistakes. His values are informed by the trouble he has encountered, the choices he has made, and the people he has loved. He spoke to us in length about the value of women and the idiocy of machismo. With his blessing and his many thanks, we walked quietly through the rain back to the hotel.
Two work days down, two work days to go. Today was our day of rest, so we all went shopping across the lake. It was a bright day this morning, but as the day pressed on, the clouds brought us rain--this is such a joy for the growers here. They depend upon this rain for their crops, but it hurts the shop owners who depend on tourists to fill the streets. It has been hard for us to comprehend the strife each of these people goes through in any given day. There is no getting ahead, just keeping up. The cup is never full, but these people are strong-willed and refuse to let it empty. They only look to their neighbors to make sure they, too, have enough. And yes, enough is good enough.