Saturday, January 17, 2009

They Cry For Peace

Guatemala is a land of great wonder and mystery. Beauty and joy are found around every corner. But if you listen and look closely it is also a land of acute distress, suffering, and pain. Guatemala is a country coming down from a 36 year long civil war and the wounds have left their scars. This was my third visit to the country. I had heard the stories before and this trip wasn’t any different.

While in the capital we visited a small project and a young girl told us a story that was soon broken up by tears. The tears were painful and pierced your heart. A few years before, she had been kidnapped while taking a shower right outside her house. The police didn’t bother to do their job and left the father and uncle in search for her. Kidnappings happen for two reasons - for ransom or for abuse, and the family wasn’t one to bug for a ransom. Shortly after, I stood aside and spoke with our leader (that lives there in Guatemala) and he told me how drug trafficking and gang violence is on the rise in the city (because of Mexico and Columbia). He believes that in just a short couple of years the violence will rise sky high once again. It was a comment you didn’t want to hear, but it also didn’t come as a surprise.

With our two police officers in tow for security (for the entire trip), we headed off to the area of Solola. Later I found myself no longer among palm trees, tropical flowers and sugar cane fields. Instead we were up in the clouds surrounded by the dense forest area of Corazon del Bosque. I jumped off the bus and viewed the crowd of a couple hundred that I was about to dive into head first. I took a deep breath, went in and was mobbed by 20 plus kisses of innocent children and nothing is better than that.

While there the massive crowd gathered in a circle around us, knelt, raised their hands to the sky then cupped them around their faces. Then in their Mayan language they fervently prayed for us. It was a prayer so devout it made us sponsors from CFCA feel uneasy. We felt as if we weren’t worthy and didn’t deserve such gratitude. We had come with CFCA to see our sponsored children and yet they still thanked us because we had come in place of all the sponsors that couldn’t be there. They are a grateful people by nature and I felt blessed to have such a prayer bestowed on me.

The celebration continued. Children danced, sang, and handed out mounds of fruit. And again the painful sound of children's tears rang in your ears. They sang of pain and blood shed. They cry for peace. The Mayan people are constantly persecuted in their own country. A friend of mine even told me he can’t even wear his Mayan bag to school in the city because of the persecution. I didn’t understand and probably never will. Unfortunately, the answers to solve the worlds hatred will most likely never be there. But the best thing I can do is to just walk along side the people and listen. Not in front or in back.....but beside. And that is my plan.

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