I recently returned from Guatemala with my daughter, Caroline. I didn’t go on this short term mission trip in search of a life-changing event. I’d already visited a village in Mexico years ago and experienced the shock and a good dose of humility that most do when they first see poverty (modest shelters, wooden bed frames propped on cinderblocks in the corner of a dirt floor, scant food supply, tainted water, scores of filthy, malnourished, snarling dogs).
But Guatemala offered a sweetness I hadn’t expected. The village children. Dozens of them! Filthy, yes. And many with runny noses. Yet they were the sweet stuff of my visit between the hardness of travel getting to and from the remote Guatemalan region two hours east of Nebaj (Ney-bah), a challenge not for one prone to motion sickness.
They emerged from their remote mountain top dwellings and scrambled down dirt paths to see the Americanos. Each morning several stopped in groups on their way up the hill to their school. They set their curious, dark eyes on us from early in the morning until dark.
Dusting off two years of high school Spanish I asked their name, their age, and, “Jesus Christo en tu corazon?” (Jesus Christ in your heart?). What joy it was to see eyes brighten with a nod of agreement to that question now and then.
They didn’t really know what they look like, blessedly free from self-absorption. Aha! No mirrors! Could I go a day without one? So when a gringo like me arrived with her iPhone they insisted on having “un foto” taken followed by a push-and-shove to stare at my cell screen.
Being in a foreign country I realized how very selfish I’d become about God. Some time ago I’ve must have fashioned Him into an American, a god I can relate to, a seriously cool dude. And one I’m – ahem – most comfortable with. Did He really comprehend k’iche’, a tribal, guttural twist on Spanish? Yes. God is Lord of all, is uninhibited by differences with no need for an interpreter.
When visiting one of the families tucked way high in the mountainside a young girl tapped the outside of my hand, placed hers beside mine. Then giggled.
She saw two distinct skin tones. I saw one Lord God, Creator of all.