Thursday, January 05, 2006

Merry Christmas

Dear friends and family,

It’s been a while and there are many stories I could tell since my last letter.

I could tell of Maria, a 4 year old girl who was kidnapped from her family on December 1st, I could tell you that when something like this happens in zone three, that actually nothing happens, there are still children smiling and playing in the street, the newspaper continues to print stories of soccer, and only a mother with a broken heart and a child who’s life will be forever affected will note the first of December 2005 as a day forever infamous.

I could tell of the second most commonly celebrated December birthday in Guatemala. How on December 7th, millions of fire crackers serenade thousands of bonfires while hundreds of devil piñatas are thrown in to celebrate his (the devil's) birthday by symbolically throwing him into hell.

I could tell you of the Christmas celebration held yesterday for 150 children from the colony called New Sunrise, made possible by a volunteer group from the States. I could tell of the excitement as many received the only tangible gift they will get this Christmas.

I could tell you of how the money came in for Lorena to buy her house in answer to prayer, thanks to some very generous people.

But it is not about these events that I wish to write today. Today I want to write about what’s been happening internally.

After a little over half a year in Guatemala and working adjacent to the dump, it’s hard not to realize that the fullfillment and happiness promised by the American dream is a sham. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to get back home to start renting a comfortable apartment North of Chicago, to have internet 24/7 as well as a hundred other luxuries you hardly notice until you go without, and I’m more excited than I was at 16 to have a car again and the luxury to decide when I come and go. But in the end, the ultimate and final prize the American Dream has to offer is money, and that’s it. Happiness and fulfillment are a completely separate issue. They say the best things in life come for free, they were a little off. The best two things in life cost more than money could ever buy. The first costs time the second costs life but it is true you don’t need a single cent in your pocket to take them home with you.

Just as it is not riches that keep you up, it’s not poverty that keeps you down. Poverty can and is being overcome daily. It’s broken families, abuse (verbal, sexual, and physical), drugs and gangs that keep people unhappy and hopeless, and I refer both to the rich and to the poor. If the dream of the 20th century was a second car in every garage, then the dream of the 21st should be a second parent in every home. The first thing that costs no money is the love of others and the currency for which it is paid for is time.

I am convinced that

neither poverty (though perhaps wealth) nor lack of education

neither infirmity nor inability to read and write

need separate a child from the love of a parent.

Furthermore I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God

That blessed love which came in the form of a man. The only man to hold true throughout his entire life, without sin. On the true Christmas day Christ took the first step towards what would be the most costly payment ever paid for anything in the history of the world. The death of a deity.

Through this payment the path was raised up or rather lowered sufficiently for us to be able to enter upon it. The path that leads to heaven and eternal life. Still, difficult it proves to accept, for to accept this gift one must give up trying to earn it for oneself. We must give up the façade we keep up so well primarily to protect ourselves from the reality that we cannot achieve perfection, communion with God, or much less true happiness, peace and satistfaction on our own. We need the payment of the death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. He paid the penalty so we don’t have to. To us the gift is free but gifts cost the giver.

While physical poverty definitely exists and is an evil to overcome, I have learned that there are many types of poverty and physical poverty is neither the most evil nor the most widespread. Giving a man a fish or even teaching him to fish will not cure him from the wound his father left when his father left. And more importantly it will not cure him of our true emptiness and the lack of a purpose in life without God.

Merry Christmas

-Enoch Hill

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