By Deacon Derick Cranston
The variety of trees and flowers is stunning. A canopy of huge cedar, pine, palm and silk cotton trees blanket the entire region of this mountainous country. Orchids, lilies, daffodils and chrysanthemums dot the landscape. The terrain of Guatemala is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. But as beautiful as this land is, the people who live here are even more beautiful. It is a beauty that is much more than skin deep. It is spiritual.
Much poverty exists here, also much joy and happiness. I was able to witness this joy and happiness on a recent trip to Guatemala to meet with different families in the area. One of the families we met lived in a home constructed of mud walls, a dirt floor and a corrugated tin roof. The family has no electricity, plumbing or running water in the place they call their home. But there is a difference between a house and a home. The house is rundown and dilapidated; the home is full of love and graced by God.
The family had been abandoned by the father. The oldest son — only 10 years old — dropped out of school to support his mother and three sisters. When I was 10 years old, I think my biggest worry was what cartoons I would watch Saturday morning. This young boy’s willingness to drop out of school also allowed his sister Fiona to pursue her education. Fiona’s education is made possible by Unbound, an organization that matches sponsors in the U.S. with children around the world to help pay for their education. Fiona told us that she enjoys her studies and wants to be a doctor when she grows up.
When we were leaving her family’s home, I heard someone shouting at me from behind. It was Fiona running after me with my bag that contained all of my valuables. I hadn’t even realized that I had left the bag there. Losing this bag with my valuables would have been a financial loss for me and somewhat stressful. But it would not have made me destitute, wondering where I would find my next meal. This bag and its contents however, would be a veritable sack of gold to Fiona’s family.
What this little girl did for me in that one act was more than I could ever do for her. Not only had she ran a long distance to return my lost items, but she touched my heart in a way I did not think possible. I was always taught that we should help those less fortunate than us. But what do you do when someone who is less fortunate than you helps you more than you can ever help her?
I dream of a future where I meet a doctor named Fiona, who was once that little girl in Guatemala who ran down the long dusty road to bring me my bag. I have faith in a future where I meet our Lord who once walked the earth as Jesus Christ and who will one day return in all his glory to mend every broken heart and wipe away all our tears.
For more information about sponsoring a child, go to http://www.unbound.org/ or call (800) 875-6564. For safety reasons, I am unable to give Fiona’s last name or the region of Guatemala where she lives.
(Deacon Cranston is pastoral associate for St. Mary Parish in Riverside, Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman. He can be reached at email@example.com.)