Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Minimalist Living Takes on a Whole New Meaning

Becoming a "minimalist" is all the rage. Many in our developed nations are striving to live a minimalist lifestyle to decrease the carbon footprint, to find "inner peace" and to achieve stress-free living. As I viewed the Guatemalan homes, which would be more accurately called shanty's, I was struck with the "minimalist lifestyle". A lifestyle that would not be considered peaceful and stress-free but a lifestyle of great need.

This small house to the left is just one of many highly sought after designs for minimal living. It has running water, a toilet, and although small, a functional kitchen. This house has solid walls and a floor to not only keep out critters but also the elements. Living in a house such as this one would have little worries of the rains washing away the floor.
This Guatemalan, open-air kitchen comes complete with free-ranging ducks and a wash tub. Some villages have been fortunate enough to have a clean water source, thanks to the initiative of causelife,  but many just hike it to the nearest stream of contaminated water. 

The stove is replaced with an open fire - sometimes made on top of cement slabs or blocks. The upgraded models include a grate to cook on top of. Most homes are one room. Walls of Guatemalan homes consist of woven sticks, tin/sheet metal, and even plastic which do little to keep out the rains. Many times the rains run right over their dirt floors. The one home I stood in was as big as my living room (before last week I may have even complained on occasion about my small living room). In this Guatemalan home, which was the size of my living room, lived a husband and wife, a grandma and nine children. In one corner was a bed which I assumed was the parents as it had plastic draped around to create a wall of privacy. Nine hammocks were tied around the room for the children, some tied above another to create a hammock bunk bed of sorts. The one other bed in the room was grandma's. This I knew because we had come to pray over her as she waited to die. 

Grandma had sustained injuries when she was hit by a tuk-tuk, injuries which if treated were not life threatening. Grandma however was refusing to be brought to the clinic at the Hope of Life and seemed resigned to staying in bed and allowing the injuries to take her life. With the help of a translator, members from our team spoke encouraging words pleading that she would use the medical assistance that was being offered to her. Unconvinced, she said she was ready to meet Jesus. 

As I looked around I thought that this was truly living the minimalist lifestyle. No closets full of clothes and shoes. From what I could tell by the clothesline closet strung between the walls, each family member probably had one change of clothing. And shoes? Some had shoes, usually flip flops and sometimes mismatched but others were embracing "earthing", the barefooted life. Not by choice but because this is their only option.

The contrast between the minimal homes in the developed world and the homes of Guatemala grips me with sarcasm and sadness. Living with little in the U.S. is seen as hip/chic/cool...any other adjective that paints a positive picture. Living with little in Guatemala means sickness, dehydration, malnutrition and poverty. The home that I viewed is the type of home in which the majority of Guatemalans live in. This isn't a small problem as OVER 70 percent of Guatemala is impoverished and over 50 percent fall below the "extreme poverty line"


Homes at the dump
When I returned home my eyes were opened to how blessed I am and my home had now become a mansion. Many emotions occur when one's eyes are opened wide. Guilt over all I have, shame for my discontentment, motivation to change, and sadness for those I saw that who are living in need.
How can you help? Partner with World Help. World Help works with the Hope of Life in Guatemala to rescue babies and children who are dying of malnutrition, digging wells to provide clean water in villages, sponsoring children so they can be fed, clothed and educated. Friends, the needs are so overwhelming great but we can make a difference! One child, one family, one village at a time. 

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