Jan and I spent a week in Antigua, Guatemala, with our daughter, hosting five Hope College students. This trip was sponsored by Sawyer Products, the company we represent in the international distribution of the Sawyer Point One water filter. Special thanks to Senior Pastor/Business Entrepreneur, Michael Watkins, and his team in Antigua, Guatemala. . We distributed 100 filter units to three mountain Mayan villages.
On August 23rd I found myself, with Natalie, driving down a 3,000 foot mountain ridge in four wheel drive, low range, with a KIA double cab, empty, after delivering 34 filter kits to Cerro San Pedro on the mountain top. We had left the Hope College students to walk 11 miles, guided by Michael Watkins, by foot, through the mountain valley on the back side of the steaming volcanic Mt. Agua to the village of Santa Maria de Jesus.
The first day we met Dick Rutgers. He is single, 67, a former Colorado mountain ski rescue team member who would on occasion purposefully set off snow avalanches to protect skiers. Many years ago he came on a mission trip like this one.
For the past 12 years he has had a wheelchair ministry.
He will drive across the country, climb a mountain, and do what it takes to fix or provide one wheel chair for one person. (Luke 15:4) We saw him do this twice. I will never forget seeing him embrace Ruben, a victim of cerebral palsy who cannot speak, walk, or care for himself in anyway.
He does not speak the language. He purposefully lives in a very rough neighborhood and mentors boys off the street. His home is open to young people 24/7. He is almost deaf. He lost much of his life savings in the economic down turn with a “safe” investment.
He said, “Never come down here to ‘do something’. We do not need you to build houses or distribute filters. We can do these things better, easier, cheaper, and more effectively than you ever can. Only come on a mission trip if you are selfish…if you want to learn culture, language, history, ministry, and in the process, discover something about yourself…and CHANGE YOUR LIFE.”
There is neither space nor time to describe the relationships, laughter, dancing, meals, worship, sharing, praying, putting together mobile filter units (Aquabiles), testimonials, filter business planning, and visiting the Mayan Tecpan Ruins.
The last thing we did late Friday afternoon was purposely visit nine recipients of the Sawyer filter who had received the filters some months previously. Here are two quotes:
- “Before – kids didn’t want to drink water. Now kids drink water.” Maria Esperonza
- “Since we have had the filter my daughter, who has experienced chronic diarrhea for years, no longer has this problem.” Unnamed mother of a Santa Maria household.
- “I don’t purchase water anymore.” Mother of household
In light of the ancient civilizations and ruins of the Mayan people with the incredible team that works out of Iglesia Del Camino this quote grabs my heart.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness, instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated, they will renew the ruined cities. Isaiah 61: 1, 3, 4
As I drove down that mountain side with the rocks, ruts, deep gullies, slippery and steep hair pin curves, I thought about what we had experienced. Natalie said, “This is better than any sand dune.” Indeed…Clean and safe water or did she mean coming off that mountain.
Successful Assembly of Aquabiles