For our second volunteer mission trip, Steve and I joined a street evangelist, a musician, and two other helpers for Holy Week in Guatemala. During the mornings we would go into cities and towns with names such as Huehuetenango, Jalapa, Quetzaltenango and Guatemala City, find an available spot, set up sound equipment and pass our tracts while the evangelist preached and the musician sang. In the afternoons we would find a likely-looking neighborhood and go door-to-door inviting people to come to a showing of the “Jesus” film in the early evening.
Several actions utterly amazed me. Of the hundreds of tracts that we distributed, not a single one was thrown on the ground. All were accepted graciously and read by the person who received it or by a literate friend. And, there were no chairs for watching the movie, but people were willing to stand for several hours without saying a word or acting bored or uncomfortable. Both were such contrasts to what would have happened in the States.
Through all of the experiences of the week, one incident is forever engraved on my mind. We had separated to go two-by-two through a pathetically-poor neighborhood using our broken Spanish to invite the people to see the “Jesus” film. Steve and I were walking down a dusty street when an undernourished brown boy about 10 years old came and started motioning for us to come with him to his house. He wanted to introduce us to his mother and sisters. We followed him and stepped into a hut with dirt floors and not a single piece of furniture. No chairs or tables, just some hammocks attached to the walls but rolled up out of the way during the daytime. We visited for a few minutes, inviting all of them to the film, and then started back down to the street. In a few seconds, the little boy came running after us holding a mango that he wanted to give us. We had seen where he lived and what his family’s “worldly goods” were. We knew that any money that had been scraped together to buy fruit in the market was precious and that such foods needed to be consumed by them to sustain life, and yet, he was insistent that we take the mango. We thanked him and went on our way. We learned later that during Holy Week the people are taught to present to someone else a gift of value that they own, and the mango represented that boy’s Holy Week observance.
What a lesson in sacrificial giving! I doubt that we’re ever been given anything of such proportional value. We’ve always given and received out of the abundance that we and others have, not in a way that would deprive us of an essential of life. And, the boy was smiling and joyful about the gift, not reluctant and begrudging. I wish I could remember his name, and I wish there had been some way to preserve that mango. I need to be reminded of its significance on a daily basis. I want to learn from this Guatemalan child the joy of exuberant giving.
Jesus witnessed a similar scene with the widow who quietly gave two mites to the temple treasury and made an example of it to those standing nearby. Luke 21:1-4 “And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a certain poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.’ “