Monday, March 14, 2016

Colombia #18- Less is More

While preparing to go on this trip, I knew that we were going into an area that had nothing. We were going into a third world village, a place that struggles to have clean water or showers or even to have food. But knowing that in my mind and experiencing it are two very different things.
  I want to put it into words for you, but it's just as hard to explain to other people as it was for others to explain to me. The people of Brisas taught me that less is more.

 They have nothing- Juan worked out on the construction project every day with us, picking away at the dirt, and all he had on his feet were thin flip flops. People comment to me when they look at my photos "oh, they have nice clothes!" But the reality is, they would dress in their best for us, eager to "show off", but they really wore those same clothes almost every day.  The village puts on a feeding program for the kids during the school week, similar to what a free lunch program would be for our kids here in the US. However, the reality is that the kids in Brisas would likely have no food if they did not have that program available. And that being said, the program itself is funded through the church, and they have had to cut back what they can serve due to lack of funding. When is the last time you had to think about not having food? Probably never, right? They wonder often days. However, they never complain, never verbalize this.
 We have fresh water every where we turn; they have never known clean water. We have showers every day, and hot ones at that; they do not have enough water for that luxury, and they certainly do not have water heaters. We have beds, they do not. We have carpeted or laminated floors; they have dirt for their floors.
 We may not always get paid what we'd like in our jobs; most of them do not even have a job. We have watches and accessories, they are grateful for a craft of a beaded necklace, wearing it like it's gold.
 The list goes on as to what we have but they do not.

 They have experienced devastation in their village, we have not seen that in our cities. They worry about their next meal, most of us do not ever face that. When supplies or funds do run low for us, we have programs all around us to help; they are left to figure it out on their own. They have mass graves in their area, evidence of the destruction that has taken place; some of us have lost loved ones, but  nothing compares to that. In all honesty, while I don't talk about it much because I don't have the full knowledge behind it, there is a whole generation missing from the village of Brisas because of the destruction and wars that have taken place there. But, while we have these facts of the tiny forgotten village and we learned these pieces, if you didn't know about this, you would never learn of it from being around them.

 Because they love like no one I have ever met.

And they taught me less is more.

 They have nothing, but I have never felt so loved and accepted as I did in their village.

  They don't have jobs, but they have community camaraderie that I have not seen in years. The church services were filled with people in the village singing praise to God. One of my favorite experiences was on the last night there. They put on a little impromptu service for us. We sang one of our songs for them, but then they sang their song for us. They stood up and shared one by one, what our being there meant to them. And when the service ended, they lingered, hugging each one of us. I cried. I have tears now in recalling the experience. The people in the village of Brisas have nothing in the way the world views things, but the gratitude and love they hold and bestowed upon us spoke volumes to me far more than any gift or possession ever could. They resurrected a part of my heart that I thought may have died a little upon losing my  mom 5 years ago. They taught me to believe in me again. The people of Brisas embraced me for who I was. It didn't matter that my hair was never fixed and always a mess (truly, it was!). It didn't matter that I was sweaty or caked in dirt from the work. It didn't matter to them what kind of house I lived in. None of them cared about what my job was or how much I weighed or the fact that I was wearing mens shorts (yes, I was wearing mens shorts on a couple occasions .. and confession on my part would be that I worried about that going into the trip. I bought shorts from Salvation Army that would work for me for construction, and some of them happened to be found in the men's section.)  None of that mattered.

They simply loved. They didn't need things to do this. They didn't need stuff to prove their status. They simply hugged and said "God bless you." because that is how they felt. It wasn't fake, because you simply cannot fake that kind of acceptance.
 So, they taught me that less is more. That is a difficult experience and lesson to convey to you as my readers. It's a struggle to put it into words. It was a moment in time that has forever changed my perspective, and one I long to hold onto for all of time. Teaching less is more here in the states is not easy.  Most of us have not only what we need, but things we want as well. I'm not saying that is bad. I am just saying that they capture an old truth long forgotten in our world at times. Love speaks more than any possession ever could. I'm not sure how else to verbalize this. Experiences that are that monumental are not ones words can describe. You have to feel them. But, I hope you can hear my heart through this blog. I hope that if you talk to me, you can see the difference it has made in me, the changes I brought back with me. The people in Brisas, those who have suffered loss and devastation, the people who have needs far outweighing our wants, the people who are tucked away in a corner of the world unknown to many.... those people... have taught me that less is more.
  They have taught me about love.
    They brought back hope to my heart in ways I forgot existed.
       They  showed me what matters in life.
They have left their print on me forever.

 Below are a few photos of homes in the village. Dirt roads, huts for homes, lines for hanging laundry, but hearts full of love and arms open to embrace us.

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