Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nonpareil Community

Visiting a foreign country, for even a few days, is eye opening. I find that often Americans are stuck within their own culture, and it is hard to understand that a huge world exists beyond our own. Food, clothing, lifestyle, religion, social etiquette, worldview - it all changes when you venture outside of what is comfortable and into the unknown. Having bee given the opportunity to travel a bit, I have had the unique pleasure of experiencing various cultures. Whether it was Uganda, Romania, or Ecuador, my eyes were open to a vastly different society than my own. Yet, it was not until my travels took me to Guatemala that I saw a far surpassing community than any other I had participated in.

 After tying wire around rebar for a week it was time to pour concrete. For days questions were asked as to whether we would actually be pouring concrete on the third floor of the seminary. Generally when the area is that high the Guatemalans will hire professionals to complete the job. The third floor is pretty high up, and the area was quite large compared to what teams generally poured. Yet, we were told that we would indeed be pouring concrete in the clouds. Otto, the jolly church planter for whom we worked, revealed that the community is made stronger through hard physical work. So in order to strengthen their church fellowship, he had called in volunteers from the diverse congregations to participate.
Now we come to the reason for this entire post. The thing that blew me away in terms of community. Otto sent out the word that we were in need of four or five people from each church to come help with the pour. When all was said and done he had to turn away volunteers. More people than were necessary wanted to help with this grueling and incredibly long day of hard, manual labor. We passed full buckets of concrete for eight hours with not even a break to wipe the sweat from our eyes. It was constant swinging of heavy metal buckets filled with grey slop.
 These hermanos came from miles around, some traveling nine or ten hours by bus overnight in order to arrive on time at the construction site. We awoke at 5:30am to travel the half hour to the Seminary. When we arrived bleary eyed, almost everyone else was already there working. Hermanos and hermanas alike put us to shame.
It was such a joy to work alongside this stable and endearing community. Just because my ability to communicate was almost non-existent didn't mean that I didn't talk about superheros for an hour with two of the boys, Ulysses and Antonio. That also didn't stop them from buying me icecream.

I was blessed to witness this type of community firsthand. Maybe it does exist where I live. Maybe it doesn't. I know that I am far to selfish to help my church when there is a need. Often I make excuses - "Oh, it's an inconvenience to me." "I don't really want to be around church people." - The list goes on and on. Yet, here is a community where they feel privileged to be able to serve their brothers and sisters. This is an example worth treasuring and reflecting upon.

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