Her name is Lucy and she was 5 years old, well, almost.
This wonderful, shy little girl and her family from the mountains of southern Guatemala has helped change the way I look at the world.
It was Wednesday, October 6, 2017 and Mt Olive was back in Capucalito, Guatemala with another mission trip to the small village. We had brought several hundred NIV Spanish language Bibles with us and this was our next to last day in the village.
Our goal on this trip was to visit every single household in the village, share with them a short Bible study and present to them their own Bible.
Many couldn’t read but just having the word of God of their own in their house was a treasure that everyone gratefully accepted.
We visited a house on a hill overlooking the village’s Basico (middle school). It’s funny to describe it as being on a hill because the whole village is on the side of the mountain and you are always either walking uphill or downhill but for some reason the memory of having to climb to get to this house sticks out in my mind.
We sat and talked to the family there for awhile and one of our interpreters, Buetuel, did his reading from Romans. It was then that we learned that the shy little girl named Lucy, that was just outside the conversation in the doorway, was turning five the very next day.
We wished her “Feliz Cuplioanos!”, and she smiled a bit. We asked her what she was getting for her birthday and it was then that we realized that not every child in the world receives presents on their birthday. You just assume that everyone lives like you do, but they don’t, and Lucy looked at us with a blank look, like we were speaking Martian. When we asked if they were planning anything special, she smiled again, this time real big, and said “Momma was making tamales”.
Tamales. Not a phone, or an iPad or even a small doll. Tamales.
As you can see from the pictures, tamales were probably a stretch for the family.
We shared a smile with her and wished her a great day when her mother asked us if we would like to join them for lunch the next day and celebrate with them. We politely refused, after all, there were a dozen of us all together and we knew adding that amount of people to the party list would be a burden to the family, but she was very insistent.
We learned something else that day, it’s not necessarily what you have, it’s what you are willing to share with others, practically total strangers in this case, that just kind of show up at your door one day. We really didn’t want to impose but also realized Lucy really wanted us to come back, so we said of course.
We spend our nights in a village at the base of the mountain called La Union and that evening, before supper, we arranged with a small bakery to make a chocolate cake that we would take with us the next day. When we arrived and presented Lucy her cake, we got that same disturbing blank look that told us we were trying to transpose American values to a completely different culture again.
Not every child in the world gets a birthday cake. Not every child in the world even knows what a birthday cake is.
We ate our homemade tamales, many served on banana leaves because the family did not have enough plates for everyone and felt really welcomed and loved. Lucy’s Mom and Aunt did a wonderful job of decorating with palm branches and made us feel like family.
On a brighter note, Lucy’s face lit up when she finally got a taste of her first birthday cake.
I think she gets the idea now.
This story of Lucy and her beautiful family is just one story of many of how the people of Capucalito, Guatemala have gone out of their way to make us feel welcomed.
I have been going down there now for seven years and have learned a lot from them about how I think Jesus would like us to treat other people.
My hope is that you can see this for yourself.
Consider joining us on our next mission trip October 18 – 26, 2019 and get to know some of these wonderful people for yourself.
If you are interested in meeting Lucy and the other gracious residents of Capucalito, Guatemala please call me at 512-261-5251 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think it will change the way you look at the world.