It was our third and final day of installing stoves in homes of the garbage dump community in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Our typical day, if there is such a thing here, was to install stoves and spend time encouraging the families by letting them know that there is a great big God that loves them enough to send a group of gringos to help improve their lives. As we finished our time at each home, we took the opportunity to pray with the family and we would ask if they had any prayer requests. Most families asked for us to pray for health or illnesses, for provisions to take care of their families, or in some cases they would ask for a blessing of a better job or an education.
As we wrapped up this particular installation, I asked the question "is there anything you would like us to pray for?", and while our guide interpreted my question and listened for the Mother of three to answer, my mind began to wander. This being our last day, I was already thinking of the logistics of where we would meet the other teammates we were working with and the next things to do on our agenda. As she finished her answer in Spanish I snapped out of my inattention and looked to our guide for what I thought would be another standard response to my standard question. Instead our guide looked at me and said "she says you don't need to pray for me, I have so much!".
I actually felt my jaw drop. Like the uppercut you didn't see coming, I was down for the count. I stood there speechless trying to gather myself and think of a good missionary response. But the truth be told, the missionary had just become the mission field. I've been a Christian my whole life and I've heard some of the greatest theologians preach on materialism and how God desires to bless us but needs us to have the proper perspective. With no disrespect to them, this lady just preached the greatest message on materialism that I have ever seen. At this stage in my life this was the message I needed to hear and there wasn't a preacher on the planet that could have waxed poetic enough to get thru to me. I needed 4 words from a poor woman living in a tin shack with a dirt floor to teach me about contentment.
To be honest, I don't remember how I responded to her and I don't even recall what I said in my prayer to her. My words weren't important anyway, she had said all that needed to be said that day. Everyone talks about how a Short-term Mission Experience changes lives; most just don't realize that it's your life too. Identify your mission.
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15 NIV)