Our house is breaking, but...

*To add to this post, you may be interested in visiting: www.gssg-usa.org

Our house is breaking. It is a 20-year-old house, so I shouldn’t be surprised that things are beginning to go awry.  I would still choose it—the house, that is.  There’s something about homes that have already been scuffed and worn—broken in—that appeals to me.  It’s less intimidating for one thing, especially when you plan to bring a small army of little people (and a couple of animals…and a couple of sloppy adults) in, you don’t want to see a shiny new house get wrecked.  That’s stressful.  This house has good bones, so to speak, and I knew right away that it could handle us.   But houses, like people, begin to show their age despite our best efforts to disguise the scuffmarks.  This year, we have finally replaced the buckled driveway, the rotten back doors, the rotten floor beside said rotten doors, the air handler…and this week, we have had the cable repaired and Toby is trying to repair our telephone wiring and the pipe which burst under the front yard.  J  Which brings me to my point.

In order to fix the pipe (which carries water from the street to our home), we’ve had to shut off the water numerous times over the last few days.  For up to, hmmm…an hour at a time, or overnight. 

No big deal, right? 

On the contrary, unless we are away from home, there is always water being used in our home:  dishwashing, clothes-washing, bathing, cleaning, drinking, cooking, toothbrushing….can you relate?  So we filled pitchers of water and used them as needed during those shut-off hours.  And I wanted to complain.  I sort of did complain…a little. 

Now, this was a wake-up call for me.  Sure, there is the concern for the environment and the fact that this one North American family may be solely responsible for depleting global water supplies before the year 2010.  But more than that, our temporary inconvenience reminded me of the masses of mothers who have no fresh water to offer their families EVER.  Can you imagine never being able to turn on a faucet to wash your hands?  Can you imagine knowing that the water you use to prepare meals for your kids just might make them very sick?  Can you imagine having to ration out sips of bottled water to make sure the supply lasts?

How very much we have to be grateful for!!  It is truly astonishing how much we have been given.

On Sunday, Toby and I were handed a flyer by a friend which gave information about a program called Guatemala Student Support Program.  They were in urgent need of a home for a 15-year-old girl in the program because her current host family was no longer able to care for her.  Long story short: we volunteered to have her stay with us, the kids were sooo excited about the prospect, but it didn’t work out.  It turned out there were other families willing (how great is that!) and one of them lives in a more convenient location. 

BUT. 

We spent an hour late Sunday night talking with the man who began this program AT AGE 72.  He is now 77 years old and building this program, which selects students (who pass aptitude and leadership tests) from the poorest Mayan villages of Guatemala and brings them to the United States to be educated so they can return home and change their country!  They are doubling the number of students every year until they reach their goal.  (No, the students don’t decide to stay here—they want to go home.  Their education here opens every door for them to earn a living there, whereas here they would be illegal and unable to do as well.)

The home this girl comes from holds 9 children and two adults.  They sleep in hammocks and on the hard floor, there is NO electricity in the village, only two rigged kerosene lights in the house, and they are hours from any larger town.  There are NO books in these homes, recreational reading is unheard of—children are never read to or handed books to explore and be inspired by. 

Apparently, Guatemala spends the smallest percentage of their GDP on education of any country in the western hemisphere.  The small number of children who attend school, John says, are “wasting their time.”  In the schools he visited and worked in, “school” means the teacher copying from a textbook to a chalkboard and the students copying from the board into their notebook.  Less than four percent of girls graduate from high school and none of them attend college.  One of his students completed one single year of college here and with that much of an American education was able to get a job earning 5-6 times the average worker’s wage in his country.  Because of an American education.

Now…when we talk about equal opportunity for education and work here in the United States and then we look at the situation of these truly oppressed, unrepresented people groups in countries like Guatemala, we see a huge, huge difference in what “lack of opportunity” means.

We didn’t get to have this young girl stay with us at this time.  But we may in a few months host another one of the students, and that is some consolation to our kids who were already planning the next few months with a "big sister." 

I don’t talk about this stuff to make you or I feel guilty about what we have.   I really don't.  I talk about it so we will perhaps feel even more GRATEFUL for what we have.  Grateful and generous. 

My house is breaking J, but my family is safe, warm, healthy, fed, and together—at least for today. 

Thanks be to God.