I'll say upfront that this is a longer post and it's a little more informational than some may enjoy, but it should be helpful to those of you that have been wondering exactly what has been happening on the development work front. 

As you may know, we've been hunting around for the past month for a place to call home, but we're not just looking for a pretty, friendly place. It's crucial to us that we're as intentional as possible in this process so that we stand a chance of getting the development process off the ground.Selection is certainly one of the most important elements of this process. This process has been difficult for a variety of reasons: getting to the area for the first time, getting straight answers out of people, trying not to reveal to much and raise expectations, encountering a community with drive and willingness to work together, etc. Since we've been here a little while, I just thought we'd share a couple examples of visits that didn't work out and then two with real potential.

Community PB was an interesting place because the pastor was right on. We had a lot of questions asking about the churches role in development and poverty alleviation is and he answered every single one just like we had dreamed. The only problem is that the area is in a good size town and is fairly developed; he recognized that the community's need was low in comparison to the rest of his country. Our goal is to identify a community where the development potential crosses with the greatest need. One side of the equation was missing.

Coummunity LDA was also intriguing because the trip there was both very difficult and beautiful, through streams and up the sides of muddy mountains to arrive at a quaint, poor community up very high in the mountains. The people were very friendly and kind, with a surprising amount of "cheles (whitish folk)," and they had power and water. However, as we talked with the pastor and leaders in the community, it became apparent that they were more interested in putting tile in the church than meeting the needs of the community. This obviously was not the place either.

We did have a great visit in Las Lomitas (Little Hills). This community is way up the side of a mountain, surrounded by coffee country. The community is pretty poor, but a few things are looking up for them. 1. They do own a good bit of land and are interested in increasing the production on it. 2. They do not have water, but they're working hard to bring it in. 3. Another group called "Salt and Light" has begun replacing the existing homes (in bad shape) with much improved concrete homes. 4. The people seem to respect their village council (patranato) and pastor. 5. It's small and would be easy to work with.

As a result of this good visit, we're returning there today to spend two more days to get to know the community better. We'll spend today, tonight, and tomorrow there before coming back down.

But by far, our most interesting visit has been to the community of Puerto Escondido (Hidden Port). It's not in the mountains, but the drive there was on the worst road we've seen thus far. Once we parked at the end of the road, we had to cross a fast river on slick stones, then walk for ten minutes through the valley before popping out in the community, and I will say that we were both surprised at the conditions there. It reminded me much more of Haiti than of anything we've seen here.

All of the homes barely qualify as shacks, they're constructed solely from bamboo, sticks, and tarps with maybe a couple of scraps of tin on the top and a side. Out of the ~30 homes in the community, none had water, electricity, or a non-dirt floor. They did have a school (Grades 1-6), but only one teacher for the 60 students. The school had bamboo walls halfway up, and a roof, and the floor was also dirt. However, the hearts and minds of the people were sharp. We had a meeting with most of the people in the community, and it was clear that they were chomping at the bit to improve their situation. We talked for about an hour with several action items on the part of the community. We plan to return next Friday with a couple more folks that will know a little more about the situation and potential. Our minds have been very occupied with this community. Regardless of whether this will be our home or not, we feel responsible to respond to these conditions. The church cannot sit silent when it encounters this type of need.

Damos gracias a Dios: por la opportunidad de conocer communidades y las personas que viven alla (the opportunity to get to know communities and the people that live there).

1 comment:

  1. Learning lots through you guys - totally affirm your thought process...very wise, missional, and (most importantly) biblical - keep serving with a purpose!