Posting live from Guatemala City:
When he stood up to speak, his hands stuffed nervous in his pockets, his right shoe tapping anxious, I had no idea that the whole ugly mask was going to fall straight off this thing.
I guess I should have seen it coming in his eyes, in that flicker, the way he held his head.
“I am in business management in college,” Daniel says, his black wavy hair greased right back, shiny and slick, looking like any guy hanging on the back shanty streets of Guatemala City. Looking like any guy muscling down a sidewalk flanked by a gang member or two.
It jolts me awake, that these words can be uttered here — we’re sitting in the center of gang territory, surrounded by poverty. I have seen the haunting eyes, the worn faces.
There are bodyguards by the door with loaded weapons.
“I am in technical engineering,” Josue stands next, adjusts his glasses. He grew up right here in these projects, where gangs murder children for botching up the their muling of drugs from one window-barred street to the next.
“The year I applied to Compassion for the Leadership Development Program for a scholarship to university, there were two hundred applicants. They had funds to accept only twenty.” A man in this neighborhood had showed us his bullet scar this afternoon, right through the hip, right down the street. I don’t think he’d applied for that. Josue needed a way out of nightmares.
I look at Josue, one of the selected twenty, so strong and confident, and who knew that whole showers of stars can explode up into the night?
Sometimes you cry not because you see the falling star but because you see a star rising right out of the black.
I cry at wonder.
“And I am Maynor and I am twenty and I am in second year of photography and graphic design. This pastor, here” — he throws his arm around the pastor of the church that offers this Compassion center — “he was my first pastor when I was sponsored and first came here.”
Maynor’s the last to stand, the slightest and wiriest of the trio and everything for me is blurring emotion, Maynor bent to hug this pastor, and where did these wonders come from?
I can feel it inside, the stereotype breaking, me cracking right open, swept away with all this liquefying hope and crazy joy that rusted tin walls can’t confine the largeness of a soul.
When I brush away the tears and look at these boys I can see clear…
Poverty is what masks the face of possibilities and it’s only despair that shrouds all the light.
And in every person, in every shack, ghetto, slum, just under the thinnest of veneers, lies the holiest wonder of dreams.
This too is a wonder, that these can be made flesh. I witness it firsthand, these three men, Daniel, Josue, Mayron, standing.
How did this happen?
I want to know, how did this happen?
I had walked a narrow Guatemalan street this morning, armed bodyguards walking ahead of us, behind, and they had called the community with bars in the window and stench in the air, they’d called the community Miracle.
The bodyguards explained the miracle as this: if you get out of the place alive, it’s a miracle, if you get out of the place with what you brought in.
But I want someone to explain this: how do miracle grow dreams even in gutters?
Explain this, how this miracle that these three poor men are alive and large and living rich possibilities, how the miracle that they get out of this place with infinitely more than they brought in?
How does this miracle happen here? This is what I want to know.
These three who have walked through the fire and not been burned up, Daniel, Josue and Mayron, they can explain miracles. I listen to their Spanish voices, watch their eyes tell of the incredible impossible made real, and they even given the miracles names.
Margaret in the UK and Angela in Australia and Mr. David in the UK.
Now Daniel, Josue and Mayron brim and spill. “I know my life would be very different if I hadn’t had Mr. David,” Josue tells us, chin trembling.
We are talking about his life here.
Mr David didn’t just gasp and cry over poverty because that doesn’t do anything to slay the beast, but he and Margaret and Angela, they DID something about it in Jesus’ name and they weren’t duped by any obscuring cloak of poverty. They knew that greatness lies just under poor griminess.
And Margaret and Angela and David, strung clear around the world, reached out to the alleys and valleys of Guatemala and they sponsored Daniel and Jusue and Mayron, became their bread, sent them their prayers with the lick of a stamp, offered to make the mirages into real miracles.
It’s sponsorship that cracks the mask of poverty and it’s sponsors who are God’s miracle makers and it’s a global community who gathers together to tear down shanties.
Every month, for years, that tearing down shacks just looked like a donation, a deduction from the paycheck.
But donations fund dreams and deductions add up to multiplied hope and where are the people who believe in God-sized dreams for the least of these?
What else are we spending our lives and resources on that compares to this?
Lisa-Jo and I and a whole community of women who’ve gathered on this bloggers trip with Compassion, we ask Daniel, Josue and Maynor, what they would say to their miracle makers if Margaret, Angela, and Mr. David, were sitting in the room.
Daniel says it first, “Thank you, Angela, for being someone I could put confidence in. Someone I could write my heart to, who I could put confidence in to tell things I had never told anyone, trust with things I could not even tell my parents.” These letters, they matter, material for the miracle.
And Josue, he’s the one who says the words that make me a torrent:
“I would tell my sponsor: Thank you for being part of my dream. Not just my dream. But God’s dream for me.”
I can’t dam everything that spills and streams straight down.
God’s the One who plants the dreams in children under tin roofs that thrum terror in rain, children thin and clinging to sheer gorges in shanty towns, children who are the plucked prey for warring gangs. God’s the One who multiplies what we bring in so we can give out far more and God’s the dream-maker — calling us to be a community of wonder makers.
When the bus leaves this Compassion center, pulls away from the grime and desperation of the street, I look back and Maynor and greatness is in the doorway. I wave, everything inside swelling. He tilts his head in a smile and waves, waves, waves.
In that moment, we’re unmasked, bald-faced miracles.
Would you give back and be a miracle maker today?
Give to a Guatemalan child and make a miracle happen
and Dayspring gives back to your generous giving with
a free $30 Gift card
There are 618 children waiting for a miracle right now in Guatemala. You can look into their eyes right here.
We’re so excited because we know that this is the kind of community that responds and gives back to a far greater degree for the children of Guatemala than it responded to the last thirty days of DaySpring give-aways.
Because we’re a community of women who know it is far better to give than to receive —
Let’s make a miracle happen for each of these 618 Guatemalan children! Together, let’s see how many we can rescue from poverty! It’s $38 a month — that’s less than one trip to Wal-Mart. And it will MAKE A MIRACLE HAPPEN!
Daniel and Josue and Maynor are reading this post today from their internet connection at the university library.
Might you? Give-back a word of encouragement to this trio of miracles?
And maybe share your plans for joining them in being miracle makers in this world in need of wonders? Together, we can light up the night!
Posted by: Ann Voskamp @ Holy Experience