One of the great ironies of life is that Beauty and Danger are best friends. I’ve never been one to shy from courting both Beauty and Danger and on this trip, it was par for the course.
During my college years, I spent a summer working for my uncle and cousin in upstate New York. I helped built chimneys, repaired and installed roofs, and did other general construction. It was a hard summer, but I learned a lot and I came home with a tan, muscles, a new outlook, and a few new tricks.
We used to laugh at Danger and admire Beauty from on high. Being up on a rooftop has it’s advantages. I was fortunate that I kept close companions with Caution so Danger never spoiled my day. I wish I could say the same for my cousin. He’s fallen off the roof twice and both times suffered serious injuries. He’s lucky to be alive.
There were more than a few moments when this crossed my mind while I was on the roof with my teammate, Adam. He’s an old hand at this sort of thing having worked in the trades a bit more than I have, he knew exactly how to approach the job in the safest and most efficient manner. One experience has taught me is to respect people who get up early in the morning and create things for a living. I followed his lead and he taught me a few new tricks.
There were some soft spots in the roof and although it looks solid from a distance we were supported by only a couple of 2×4’s. If it weren’t for the boards we sat on, we’d have been licking our wounds from the concrete floor.
There was no shortage of work that needed to be done in the village. When we arrived there was only one working toilet, but no water to flush and no showers. There were several buildings that needed painting including the new preschool, a new roof on the kitchen (pictured), and a home build that was underway.
Basic medical attention was over an hour a way and I’m sure a real hospital was a lot further off. Cell service was only available from the top of the water cistern. I only know this because I saw the pastor of the local church climb to the top to make a phone call. We couldn’t drink the water or even brush our teeth with it and we were instructed to sanitize our hands after every wash.
Life here is hard and every day there is a risk from the dangers of the forest that we know nothing about. We saw some pretty big, ugly spiders (I’m sure they were harmless… who’s afraid of spiders anyway?) and a few scorpions (those I take seriously). Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night revealed the tiny eyes of creatures big and small staring back at us.
After completing our work each day, we had lunch and then spent time with the children, teaching them, playing with them and just loving them. We played games and we sang songs together. We gave them candy and snacks and did crafts together.
We enjoyed meals together, we laughed, we cried, we slept, and we celebrated.
But it wasn’t about the work, or courting Beauty and Danger. It was like dancing on the rooftops with Jesus. We were following his lead, learning a new step, and trying some new moves high up in the mountains of Guatemala. It was exciting, fun, inspirational, and exhausting all at the same time.
For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. — Ecclesiastes 3:1-14