Grateful to be outside and away from the large flies swarming in the room, I followed them to an open pipe with cold water coming out from under a set of stairs that I could use to shower. Being curious yet polite, I asked about where I might be able to cook. The couple looked at each other and then around a bit, eventually pointing to a small screened room outside with only a wooden sewing table inside and kindly offered it to me as a kitchen. As a water source they showed me their pila, a large outdoor cement tub, with standing water filled to the brim since that day they were able to get city water from the pipe. Drifting atop the water were plastic bowls used to pour the water over your hands or dishes for cleaning. They were eager to have me live there. Felipa explained that I would need a stove and refrigerator and they look at each other a bit puzzled. Unlike many Guatemalans, they actually have these appliances in their kitchen upstairs and it seemed like they were about to offer to share them with me but I didn't want to put them out. I was also realizing that although I've lived in some pretty primitive places, this would probably not be a feasible place for me to stay and still have the energy and health to serve the rural poor, who have so much less than even this family. I think Felipa was starting to realize the same thing, so we politely changed the conversation and soon thanked them for showing us their lovely home.
For the poor in Guatemala's rural areas, the situation is worse. Some survive on only tortillas and coffee. It is common practice to feed newborns a bottle with sugar saturated coffee and children sometimes drink sodas as the only water available is polluted with parasites. Children generally do not attend school past 6th grade and instead the girls help with washing, taking care of the babies and other house chores while the young boys work in the fields, sometimes with their father if they are blessed to have one present. Those farmers whose fields are not destroyed by mudslides and other natural occurrences that we in the US have the means to recover from, might at some point be able to buy vegetable seeds. But they frequently cannot afford to feed these nutrient dense vegetables to their families so instead they sell them far away in the city markets. Women continue to pass the day collecting firewood, grinding corn and making tortillas to feed their families.
In the end, though we are all born into different circumstances and some of us have more choices and opportunities than others, we are all given life and an ability to choose how we will live it. I am grateful that God brought me here to Guatemala to share his life and hope and also for daily opportunities to learn with my Guatemalan sisters and brothers. Regardless of our levels of education, upbringing, beliefs and cultural differences we are all perfectly created by a God who loves us. He is teaching me to keep my eyes on him, to learn how to be a good steward of what he has given me and to daily trust him, including with the vision he has put in my heart for the developing world.