There’s an old Irish hymn that’s a personal favourite of mine. Be Thou My Vision was translated in 1912 by Eleanor Hull and has been a staple through every Christian church for the past hundred years; transcending through denominational divides, and different cultural and generational trends. Everybody loves a classic. Classic cars, classic songs, classic movies. Classic hymns? Sure why not. Throw in some organ and this girl is giddy with goosebumps and glee.
I’m not sure if I know what most of the Novacom teams’ religious affiliations are. Some wear it on their sleeves, some have a certain “je ne sais pas”, some have no affiliation, some may be agnostic. Regardless, we are here in a “Christian” country, with a Christian charity, and prayer and the respect for it is here with everyone. At the end of each home build, the team members “interview” the recipients of the home. The common theme in every one of the 9 interviews to date, is that God has blessed them, and we have blessed them.
Yes, these people are needy in the simplest of terms, but I don’t see them as poor. While they lack material wealth, they have a richness in spirit that can only come from being content with what you have, and grateful for gifts you receive. This shines through in their generosity too, as they put out chairs for us to sit and rest while we’re building, or provide us with drinks and snacks that cost them a week’s wages. Food and shelter may not be in abundance, but the communities are so tightly knit, that if you need a place to live, someone takes you in (regardless of space), and there is always a little something to eat. It’s much like the parable of the poor widow found in the book of Mark 12:42 “Then one poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amounted to a small fraction of a denarius. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 For they all contributed out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”
When I think about how “wealthy” we are as North Americans, there seems to be a sharp contrast in perspectives between here and home. In Canada, we tend to be focused on what we don’t have, where here they’re content with what they do have. There is a noticeable pride in their homes regardless of what type of house it was; they almost all have beautiful flower gardens and foliage. And given the central American culture of littering their garbage anywhere they want, I find El Salvador drastically cleaner then Guatemala. Their respect for God and the blessings they have in any measure is repaid with gratitude and of taking care of what they receive. We saw this repeatedly when we see previously built homes. And there is always a genuine hospitality and willingness to help. By the end of today, I think the amount of local men helping, out numbered us! Juan (aka Johnny, or Juanny as I like to call him), pick axed at the shale type soil for about 10 hours today. And man, was he fast and powerful! But he was always laughing, and smiling, bugging me and dancing to the music with me. Such a lovely man, and I am so glad we were able to build him a home today.
Well, I will leave you off with a verse from that good ol’ Irish hymn that is entirely appropriate for today’s post:
“Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.”
Here are a few more photos from our day;