Saturday, August 9, 2008

Seen Too Much

While visiting Lindsey and Eliana last week I got to visit several ministry sites and places of great need in Guatemala that I had only heard of. It's taken me a while to blog about it because I'm still trying to get my mind and heart around what I saw. At each location I kept asking what the "Wheeler's" response to this was to be. I've seen too much, I'm now among the accountable. Scripture is full of verses that are very clear about not neglecting the poor. At this point I know that we're to be a mouth-piece, a catalyst, a connect people here in the States with the great needs in Guatemala.

I'm to tell the stories as loudly and as often as I here are three of the places that impacted me the most:

This is El Basurero (The Dump).
This is the largest city dump in all of Latin America. It is over 24 football fields in size and has 1500 TONS of trash delivered 6 days a week. The stench of this place makes your eyes water, and the skies are swarming with vultures. It is literally too big for your eyes to take in at once. It's like trying to see all of the Grand Canyon with one gaze. Semi trucks on the other side look like tiny pencil dots. Your eyes strain to focus, to pick out objects among the mottled mosaic of garbage. As you stare you realize that it's all moving...those are the vultures scowering the ground. Then as you look through the vultures you begin to pick out people! There are 11 THOUSAND people who live here and make their living by picking through the trash trying to find anything they can recycle or sell. 6000 of them are children! It is the most heart wrenching thing I've ever seen. The work is extremely dangerous. Recently, there was an avalanche of trash that buried 18 people alive...not to mention the toxic nature of what they're digging through.

There is a ministry we visited called The Potter's House that is making a difference among these precious people at the dump. It was begun 22 years ago by a sweet Guatemalan couple named Edgar and Gladys. They have a feeding program, a Christian school, plus micro-enterprise, health and community support. The people of Guatemala refer to those that live at the dump as Guajeros (Scavengers) but The Potter's House calls them Tesoros (Treasures)! How beautifully redemptive is that!
Please check out their work at

This is La Lemonada (Lemonade).
It is a ghetto/slum of 60 THOUSAND people. The homes are shacks built into the muddy hillsides of this giant ditch. Mudslides from the torrential rains can wipe a home right out. There is a river of raw sewage that runs right down through the middle of La Lemonada. In the midst of it all there is Hermana Tita (Sister Tita).
Tita is this radiant person of peace in the midst of the heart ache. (As we stood and talked with her, children and families passed by happily calling out her name.) She carries the Gospel to these people in need and runs La Escuelita (The Little School) in the middle of La Lemonada (It's the red building you see at the bottom). La Lemonada has a strong reputation for being a very dangerous place due to gang violence and shootings. Tita said, "It is more dangerous to disobey God, than to obey God in a dangerous place." We asked Tita what she needs. She said, "Crazy People in Love with Jesus." Please join us in praying daily for Tita and her awesome ministry to these families.

This is Shorty. He has an incredible testimony of how God redeemed his life! He is a former gang member who now runs a Christian rehab center for guys who want to get their lives and families straightened out. He lives a life of faith like I've never seen. He gets death threats all the time and his response is, "If i die, I die...I get to be with Jesus." He literally lives out daily what Paul says in Philippians 2:21, "To live is Christ, to die is gain." He told me that he's not just "being tough." Shorty said, "I don't fear them, I fear God...I respect God."

Oh that I might live with this kind of faith. That we all might follow the examples of Shorty, Tita, Edgar and Gladys.

That Jesus would be more precious to us than our comforts and even our very lives.

P.S. Pray for the health of my girls: Eiana, has Bronchitis and an infection in her lungs (she's on an antibiotic now)...Lindsey is sick too with a little of what Eliana has.


Greg and Felicia Huff said...

Keeping all of you in our prayers as always - and the people of Guatemala. It is overwhelming at times the need I feel is there. I just don't know where I am to start. So I pray! :) This is our children's birthland. We need to help. :) Keep praying. :)


Amy Clemons said...

Wishing your girls well. Thank you for sharing the story. Definitely heart-wrenching.

Kim said...

Here's another great blog to follow of an amazing young girl who is also living her faith in the Limonada.

It's hard to see what you did - but I think it's so important that we understand - and try to do something about it.

Ashton said...

Praying for you all! Especially Lindsey and Eliana...

Jenny and Matt said...

Thanks for the reminder, Chris. Even though we all know these situations exist, it's so easy for us to leave them behind and focus on our own joyful lives. Thanks for reminding us to continually pray for and help others in need.

Reba said...

Thank you for sharing, Chris. I have heard about the "dump" but never had seen pictures of it or fully realized how many people lived there. Wow. What an experience you had!

Sarah said...

Amazing testimonials... I am awed and humbled... thanks for sharing these stories and pictures with us. I will keep all these wonderful human beings in my prayers!!

Also pray that Eliana and Lindsey feel better soon!

Anonymous said...

The journey you and Lindsey have been on is one I follow and pray about!! Gods work IN your life and THROUGH your life never ceases to amaze me. My preacher always asks us "when is the last time God has taken your breath away?" and my answer to that question is just now. Reading what you have written and experienced took my breath away!! As I read it my eyes filled with tears and I was truly touched! My prayer is that I might be, that on fire for Christ, that I will live daily with the passion and conviction that your friends in Guatemala have!! I also pray that Eliana and Lindsey will get well soon, and that Gods hand will remain on Guatemala!!!
All My Love,
Sarah Parnell
P.S.- I miss ya'll and am happy to see you doing well!

Susie said...

Thanks for sharing Chris. This post is just what I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and do something for those in need. I don't know what that is yet, but I won't rest until it happens. Thanks for that amazing account of the poverty you witnessed, and I'll pray that Lindsey and Eliana are better very soon, and home soon after that.

Anna said...

Thanks for sharing some of the things that are going on in Guatemala that you've seen. Its amazing to hear what these people are doing and how they are serving God.

Will definitely pray for Lindsey and Eliana too!!! Hope they're feeling better soon.

God Bless,

GND said...

What an incredible son-in-law you are! So sensitive to the spirit of God!! I pray daily for Lindsey, Eliana and yourself. God is truly showing His power in your lives.

Dad Daniels

Debbie said...

Oh Chris, I know what you mean, about being accountable!! We have a daughter from Guatemala and another daughter coming from Ethiopia. I have been to both places and have seen many things too. "God doesn't called the equipped He equips the called". That is what I truely believe!!

I will be prayying for your girls!


Bobbi said...

Those poor girls. Hope they are feeling better soon.

We too visited the dump. What a sad place it is. Are you familiar with Safe Passage? It too is involved with the dump. A great place near and dear to our hearts.

IT is all too much, and so, so sad.

Cheri said...

I got to go to the hogar where my daughter lived four months. There were 36 babies and only 4 with homes. I can still see their faces. In traveling there, we got to see some of the things you wrote about. When I talk about our time in Guatemala, I say that I will NEVER be the same. The little things we take for granted. People in the U.S. have no clue.

My friend, Shari, got to meet Lindsey and Eliana. She is from the same town I am from and I saw her blog and couldn't believe you got to meet! I hope you get home soon so you can recover in your own home and with your family around. God bless, Cheri

Amanda said...

WOW!!! I don't even know what to say. There are so many times that we look at our lives and think that we have it bad but they you see those beautiful people and hear these wonderful stories and realize that they are truly living out what God called us to do!!! He told us to care for the least of these...and right there in Guate there are "the least of these" caring for "the least of these".

Chris-Thank you for sharing your is truly eye opening. I will be praying for the Guatemalan culture even harder than before...and also praying that I can be more like them in my walk with Christ.

Linds-I am also praying for you and Eliana. I pray for strength in both of your bodies and a complete healing. I am trusting that you will be home soon!!!

I love the 3 of you so much!

Mary Helen Wheeler said...

Oh my goodness! The enormous need
takes my breath away. I know God has equipped you to communicate on
behalf of those whose voice is not
heard here in the States.

Dad and I are praying daily for the health of your sweet girls.

Love, Mom

Unknown said...

Gosh. THis post brings tears to my eyes and JOY to my heart! I SO desire to DO you mentioned...we are accountable...the desire to help is not enough. But what can I do? That thought leaves me without answers all too often.

THANK YOU for sharing your experiences and your heart...all of these people, these ministries, and your girls, OF course, are in our prayers.

Kim & Dave said...

Yes, the need in Guatemala is great. & even though we never had the opportunity to visit places like the dump, although we have heard of that situation. Thanks for cluing us in to ways to help more practically.

Brings tears to my eyes. We are so blessed-blessed to live in America, blessed to be a "part" of Guatemala, blessed to have a "part of Guatemala, blessed to be a blessing.

Praying fervantly for the needs of the country of our children's birth.

Scott & Melissa Davis said...

Love you guys and humbled by your hearts!!

Anonymous said...

I went on a mission trip to Guatemala in March of this year. It was very eye opening. You can not even imagine the poverty until you have seen it up close.

I hope to go back again. Guatemala holds a very special place in my heart