There were about a dozen of us facing each other on long bench seats in the back of a big truck. Holding onto the side of the truck while it jostled and jerked up the mountain side on a winding dirt path.
The closer we got to the top the more garbage we began to see on the sides of the road, the more flies we encountered and the worse it smelled.
The Dump. Everything you can imagine and more. Piles upon piles of garbage, waste, spoiled food, sewage. Some piles were smoking – burning below the surface from the heat. This is where the people of the villages come, about 3 times a week, to find something to eat or something to sell to buy food to feed their families. They walk about two miles up the mountain and spend the day foraging. If they can fill a recycle burlap bag with bottles they will carry it down a big hill on the other side to a recycling center at the entrance where they will earn about 5 pesos for the entire bag. That’s about 2 and a half cents…for their whole days’ labor.
Right after we arrived a local man who makes several 5 gallon buckets full of soup every day pulled up behind us. He also brings a tank of water for them to fill whatever jug they may have to drink and carry back home.
I watched a woman pick through a pile of garbage to find a dirty 2 liter soda bottle. She unscrewed the top, sniffed inside it and walked over to fill it up with water. She drank some and filled it up again. I swallowed hard. Our eyes connected over a cup of soup and what I saw surprised me. Resilience. Hope. Life.
Many would not leave their piles to come for the soup. We carried cups of soup out to them throughout the dump. But! When the man went back to the cab of his truck and brought out the bananas….everyone came! They were each allowed TWO bananas. And they waited in lines for them. We spoke English. They spoke Spanish and some Creole…but we all found common ground that day over 2 bananas…and a smile. I’m convinced its the international sign for kindness.
Hot. Tired. Emotionally spent, we loaded up the truck and made the trek down to the bottom of the mountain and back through the town of Sosua. All through the town the locals waved and smiled and hollered ‘Hola’ to us. Their lives are hard. Life is dangerous. It is a struggle to survive every single day. But within the struggle, they have a simple cadence to life. Family is everything and time is told by the rising and the setting of the sun.
That day as we headed back to Sosua, to our air conditioned rooms, to shower and meet back up for an amazing buffet of Dominican food by the beautiful waterside, I heard God whisper these words…‘privilege comes with a price.’ I don’t know why God chose to put me here in America and that beautiful lady, in a little village beside a garbage dump, but I know that God has given each of us gifts, talents, knowledge, time and, yes, wealth to use for His Kingdom.
So when we can give bananas, give bananas. When we can sponsor a child for an education & a hot meal to break the cycle of poverty, we must! When we can go there to serve like Jesus, we must! It will bless them and it will change us…forever!
If God has been generous with you, he will expect you to serve him well. But if he has been more than generous, he will expect you to serve him even better. Luke 12:48, CEV
Father, help us to see with Your eyes. To hear with Your ears. To love with a heart like Yours that loves without condition or expectation. We are grateful that You love US that way. Help us to be generous in our serving and our loving…just like Jesus. In His name, Amen.