by Annette Fulton
A unique aspect of this week has been the presence of the Mayor’s office. The mayor, or assistant mayor, or the wife of the mayor have attended or supported each aspect of our projects. Representatives and social workers from his office have joined us as we built homes, went on family visits and built stoves out in the remote countryside.
One might initially think they came to regulate what we do, but that is not the case. They care about their poor in a direct way. They came to learn of needs and provide instruction to the families. They’ve committed to follow-up to help them make progress. The most unique and surprising aspect of their presence, they joined us in prayer, some even were brought to tears along with us. They truly care about and want to help their people.
According to the Bethel team, this doesn’t happen in others regions of Guatemala. I know Rick and I have never experienced this before on our trips the last seven years.
This was not just true in Salama, but the region. The mayor of Rabinal and mayor of Sanarate were also part of our wheelchair distributions.
One evening the Mayor of Salama prepared a special dinner for us in a hillside pavilion on the outskirts of town. It included a video of the work Bethel has done in this community over the last four years.
The mayor shared that 55% of the people live in poverty-making less than $3.00 a day, but 11% live in extreme poverty-making less than $1.00 a day. He went on to say that many think the poor are lazy, but that is far from the case. He said, emphatically, “they lack opportunity!” These people look for work every single day. Their children drop out of school to hopefully find work to help also. The mayor shared that he praised God for the help they received and feels God brought Bethel to them as a result of prayer. Amen! What a joy to hear God praised, and the hearts of both the poor, and those who can help the poor be in unified in faith!
A humbling part of all this, they spoiled us also!! Each day they brought us a boxed lunch! It didn’t matter if some teams were in town or if they were in the remote hills an hour away. They even met a team high on a mountain, climbing at least a half mile on a narrow path with two coolers, just to serve them lunch! Remarkable! Each team member was in awe of this generosity!