It is hard to believe that it is already November, and soon we will be preparing for our third Christmas together in Santa. Sharing the holidays is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced in Guatemala. We are always eager to learn more about their culture and the way they celebrate. It is a time when we can gather around the table together. But, more importantly a time we can create a table for those who have no one to share with.
Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day are some of the few days that the majority of the village does not go to work. The streets are overflowing with crowds watching the processions and people gather in the market to buy and sell pine needles. The village seems to come to life with colors, smells and the sounds of families spending time together.
There is also another aspect of Christmas in Guatemala that I was not aware of my first year. Something that affects many the families we serve. Prices skyrocket between the second week of December until after the New year has started. Specifically produce and commonly used cooking ingredients. Items such as tomatoes, onions and peppers can up to triple in cost. The rate of crime during the holidays also rises significantly. Unfortunately, those who are already experiencing financial difficultly often fall victim to theft.
It breaks our hearts that a time that is meant to be joyous can be filled with such hardship. At the same time, we feel honored to know the village and the people well enough to be able to anticipate their specific needs.
Last year, only a few weeks before Christmas we saw what was happening and reached out to our supporters in the US. We quickly began to assemble bags that contained all the essentials for cooking, along with fresh produce. We were able to distribute over forty bags to families in great need. The families that received the groceries were so thankful for the donation and for the personal visit to their home. While the prices this time of year are many times what they usually are, we can still provide a generous bag of groceries for $5 for an entire family. What a humbling fact.
Both Emily and I will be returning to Guatemala during the month of December. We are both over the moon with just the thought of seeing the people we are missing so much. Because our time is limited on this trip, we are planning diligently to fill our days with the most productive and beneficial things for the village.
The families that have received the Christmas care bags expressed what a blessing the food was for them. It also created a unique opportunity for our volunteers. They live within the village and see countless people they want to reach out to, but often do not have the resources themselves. Once the bags are packaged, they help us select each individual family that will receive.
We consider it a privilege to be able to serve our brothers and sister in Christ and would like to invite you to support the distribution of these necessary items. There is a direct link to the PayPal site for this specific donation below or you can find a PayPal button on the homepage of our website. Each bag costs $5, but absolutely any donation is extremely valuable.
As we enter the holiday season may we take a moment to appreciate we have and use it to make a difference in our local and global community.