Monday, July 5, 2010
The Harrington’s get a Close Look at the Work of World Vision
On the 29th of June, 2010 Mike and Melissa Harrington woke up in hostel Dos Lunas in Guatemala City, Guatemala. After a few phone calls and a breakfast of scrambled eggs and fried plantains, the couple found themselves in an SUV with Francisco, the Sponsor Visit Coordinator of Vision Mundial of Guatemala. This was it, the moment they had been waiting for, their anticipation and excitement was nearly tangible, today they would be meeting their sponsor child, Doris and her family.
Here at the Harrington Times we want to convey the true beauty and emotion of this day in the Harrington’s life. In order to do so, we have received the good fortune of having access to Melissa Harrington’s journal entry reflecting the events and emotions of this day in their lives. It is therefore with pleasure and honor we present the story of Meeting Doris:
“Packs loaded, anticipation rising, Mike and I boarded the SUV for our 60 km in 2 hours drive to meet Doris and her family. The drive took us through the bustling third world city of Guatemala City. Shop next to shop; next to shop. Walkways filled with women and girls in brightly patterned skirts and tops. Men and teenagers donned more modern attire of denim jeans and cotton tops. Scents of fried foods reach us in our steel and glass container. School buses fight for room on the road. There seems to be no right of way, no normalcy to driving; yet all drivers are more or less polite and always accommodating.
“At one standstill in traffic we are suddenly surrounded by Guatemalans in traditional dress, men carrying torch-like objects, without flames but rather bearing the images of Saints draped by crepe paper; all of whom are spilling forth from the Cathedral to our right. Perhaps, suggests our driver, they are having a procession of the city Saint. This statement however cannot be made until he has warned us that fireworks will soon be set off on the sidewalk next to us.
“After numerous twists and turns on the windy Guatemalan roads we arrive at the World Vision ADP, essentially the regional office, which serves Doris’ community. With Francisco leading the way we enter the building for a tour and to pick up additional World Vision staff. Upon entering, we are introduced to the Board of Directors for this ADP as well as a group of about a dozen women who will be receiving water filters and water filter training today.
“I lock eyes with a gorgeous little girl in pink and white. Her long dark hair is pulled back into a pony tail, but this is not what has me entranced, it is her deep, dark eyes – what beauty, what innocence.
“But it is time to move on. Up a flight of stairs we find a large group of children and adults. As our eyes fill with tears, do the eyes of many of the adults in the room. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, and seeing each other here helps us recognize that and our gratitude for such truth. Together the children stand, each of these children will be receiving a scholarship to help them attend middle school or high school (only elementary school is free in Guatemala). In return, these 20 or so children will become voices and ambassadors in their communities, serving as catalysts of positive change.
“Three students, a few parents and the director of the scholarship program speak words of gratitude to Mike and me but directed to all child sponsors. Who are we to receive such an honor? Don’t they know we are only flawed servants and stewards of our Lord? We don’t deserve these accolades. We in turn let them know it is our pleasure and honor to be here, with them – for them, we are grateful.
“Humbled by their action and increasingly anxious to meet Doris we continued on our way with two more staff members of World Vision. Twenty minutes more on the road was all it took before Francisco was being asked to park. Our eyes darted between homes and children, anticipating their first sight of our dear Doris. There! Just behind the large truck we spot the girl we’ve only known in photographs, annual reports, letters and drawings – Doris.
“Cautiously, we make our way up the muddy drive-way and the large truck. We are welcomed by two loving embraces, Doris and her mother. We receive also the warm and welcoming smiles of sisters, cousins, grandma and neighbors.
“We are speechless.
“So are they.
“They offer us plastic chairs and we take our seats next to Doris. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. This is our sole purpose in coming to Guatemala – this beautiful child, her beautiful family. How do we express how grateful we are to be here? We sit. We stay. We begin to converse.
“Where are you from, begins Doris’ mother. What is it like there?
“We are from Wyoming, we reply. There are mountains. We lie at a high elevation. There are only few people. Lots of cold days.
“We learn. Doris’ mother is a volunteer for World Vision, teaching women in the community how to create nourishing meals for children. Here, in Guatemala many children between the ages of 0 and 5 are malnourished. World Vision provides not only training but also vitamin packets to these families so they can reclaim the nutrition of their precious children.
“We learn. Doris is in 3rd grade. Art is her favorite subject, math is not a favorite. She brings out her school notebooks, her art notebook and her natural sciences notebook. She’s drawn a picture of Minnie Mouse and made a boat with newspaper clippings. She knows the Departments (States) of Guatemala and the bones of the human body.
“Francisco explains that in Guatemala they don’t call the children “sponsor children” but rather ambassadors. They are ambassadors in their communities, agents of change. They are ambassadors helping to usher in new attitudes regarding health and education. Doris and her two sisters are ambassadors, serving alongside their mother who has also become a voice as well as the hands and feet of World Vision in Guatemala. How fortunate we are in this moment to meet such an impressive and beautiful family.
“We have already learned, on the drive to San Raymundo, that there are 81,000 sponsor children or ambassadors in Guatemala (however, we do not remember if these are all the sponsored children or a mix of children with sponsors and some without). Either way, that’s potential for a lot of positive change in the communities of Guatemala. With 58% of the population living in poverty (less than US $2 a day per family) and 11% living in extreme poverty (less than US $1 a day per family) the right kind of change could be nothing short of a blessing.
“We have an opportunity to tell Doris that we are teachers and that we will be teaching English in South Korea.
“Now we present an offering of gifts to Doris and her family. Each member of the family receives a University of Wyoming t-shirt, hopeful they like brown and gold. And for Doris, a special set of gifts, the gifts donated by a small Sunday school class as well as a handmade gift from the same group. Perhaps it is too much to give, but it is not our generosity, it is the generosity of other children, children who know privilege but have been taught generosity.
“Having received a notebook, coloring book, crayons, markers, a book of numbers and bubbles it was time for a few photos followed by a lesson in blowing bubbles. I blew a few bubbles in Doris’ face, causing her to smile. Then it was her turn to return the favor and the joy of bubbles.
“Time was now winding down. Good-bye was inevitable, unavoidable. Doris’ mother shared many kind words with us, words of appreciation and gratitude; words of love and kindness. Together we prayed, we for them and they for us. With words, hugs, and prayers exchanged we began our way back to the SUV. Before we could load the vehicle we were asked to wait one moment, in that moment, Doris’ mother came to us with a special Guatemalan gift: a cloth used to carry bread or tortillas from the market. A gift we were honored to receive and will cherish always.
“Back in the vehicle, we slowly begin the process of understanding all that we have experienced. Giving thanks for this honor. Praying that we would be responsible with our privileges. Hoping the best for Doris, her family and her community. Considering the brokenness of the world, and the goodness that can come from individuals and groups of individuals in response to such brokenness. These thoughts take us from gazing out the window to dozing in our seats until we find ourselves in Antigua, the next chapter of our days in Guatemala.”