The Real Treasures Hidden in a Garbage Dump
When we first began visiting the communities surrounding the huge landfill of Guatemala City years ago, our senses were initially bombarded with exactly what you would expect….the odor pouring out of the decaying garbage and human & animal bodies was nauseating, the sight of huge buzzards circling the scavengers in the landfill below us was devastating, the sound of children playing in and around mounds & mounds of bagged garbage to be sorted later was heart-wrenching. But this is what we did NOT expect…to fall hopelessly in love with the faces of children smeared with dirt, to feel deeply bonded to the adults whose sweaty brows searched for every tiny piece of salvageable material, to walk through their overwhelmingly impoverished communities and have the seemingly hopeless surroundings fade around us into some kind of miraculous vision of unity, shared compassion, love and a future hope. They became our teachers…..teaching us what it means to love in the midst of death, hope in the darkest places, find beauty and value where there seems to be nothing but rot, decay and despair.
We have not looked back. We are committed heart & soul to bringing whatever small offering we have to the table to assist our friends living in these communities. Our latest partnership in the area is with a pastor, a woman who has an amazing story of her own. Pastor Mercedes grew up in the scavenger community herself. Without her parents, she began supporting siblings and cousins as she worked with her own hands each day digging around in mounds of decaying trash, dangerous toxins & bio-hazardous waste products, and rotting bodies of animals. As an adult, she planted a church in the heart of the most impoverished area surrounding the landfill. Her congregation: even more families who have built their lives as scavengers. And yet, living on $1 or $2 a day, somehow this amazing faith-filled community has built a beautiful little church and feeding center to care for the children of the scavengers. Each day, somewhere around 275 children are fed at lunch, for most the only meal they will receive that day.
the truly remarkable part of the story….the church filled with scavengers gives almost ALL of their tithe money to feed these children. How many churches do you know that give almost 100% of their tithes to missions….not to buildings, not to salaries, not to programs and trendy decor. The least of these, giving to the least of these. This is so humbling I almost don’t even know how to respond.
The very least we can do…is help to ease that burden. On our last visit with the saint Pastor Mercedes, she could barely walk due to a recent devastating illness. She had been sick for 3 weeks. Perhaps it is because she is literally at the ministry 7 days a week serving! Perhaps it is because she doesn’t just “hire out” the volunteer help for the feeding center, she is behind the counter herself passing out the plates of food. Perhaps it is because she truly does know the meaning of giving it ALL for love and for the sake of bringing God’s light to the darkest places.
On our last visit, due to the devoted efforts of our leadership team members, Aida Vega and Cristal DuBois, we were able to purchase several hundred dollars of food for the center as well as give a cash offering of another $500! THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!
We will continue to work with this ministry on each of our trips. Please help us support this precious, humble church and pastor as they struggle to feed the forgotten children of scavengers in the garbage dump of Guatemala City. For more info on how you can help, please use our CONTACT FORM page.
Click the link below to see a peek inside this amazing Feeding Center!