Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. . .
Drilling a water well for a village with no source of clean water is a pretty big deal. The residents of Monte Cristo, Guatemala, where our mission team from Mulberry Street UMC recently traveled, had been using their already meager resources to purchase safe drinking water. They knew their wells were not good. Bringing fresh, clean water was no small deal to them.
But the well was not the only work of the mission team. My role on the team was to assist our translator in teaching health and hygiene lessons to the women and children of Monte Cristo, so that once the well was complete, they would use good practices to be sure the clean water stays clean until they drink it. With such work, we do not see the outcome of our labor. What we do is make a small beginning, trusting that the lessons fall into good soil, take root and grow and that the children of Monte Cristo will thrive as they mature.
Some of what we teach goes beyond use of clean water. One point we emphasized was what they could do to enhance the livability of their community. Things we take for granted, like trash pickup, are unavailable in the rural communities of many countries. Our translator had reminded us that we were to be examples of good practices for the community, and one way that could happen was by picking up trash from the ground and putting it into trash bags.
One day, as we were doing crafts with the women of Monte Cristo, I was picking up paper scraps, sticker backs and other assorted “craft debris” that had fallen to the ground. As I stooped over and picked up the small clutter, I recalled Brother Lawrence, who said he “would not take up a straw from the ground against [God’s] order, or from any other motive than purely that of love to Him.” As I picked up trash, I offered the work to God, my small sacrifice of love and thanksgiving. The dirt yard of Ana’s house became God’s dwelling for me in that moment. I was a joy to be able to serve Christ in a seemingly insignificant way!
So now that I am home, the challenge for me is to continue to serve in small ways, not because anyone notices, but because when I pick up even a straw from the ground, it can be an act of love for God.