It was afternoon ministry and we had made sandwiches to take to kids that hang out at the local trash dump. Their families live off of the trash. I don’t think they eat what is there, but they use the resources they find while scavenging the mounds of junk. These families use another’s waste to maintain their homes. It was heart wrenching.
Mothers pushed and orchestrated their kids into lines to receive a simple chicken sandwich. I watched and took pictures as they were handed their lunch. I saw no life. Only sadness.I saw them smile but there was no joy. No hope. How do you find hope in a trash heap? You can’t. It’s lifeless.
I passed out bracelets to little girls, took pictures and made small talk with the moms. (And when I say small talk I mean very little talk. I only know a handful of Spanish phrases.) I walked around the enclosed area taking it all in. The dirty hands, the putrid smell, the downturned faces. Everything was so dull for a country that I lived in color! The rest of Nicaragua is vibrant and this place was hues of gray.
Hearing someone yell, I turned to watch a dump truck pull in and drive towards the back of the property. Then I saw the older boys begin to sprint towards it with their younger siblings trailing behind. Once they reached the moving vehicle, they jumped on the back and began to throw bags of “new” trash towards their siblings. Trash was being thrown and dragged towards their mothers and I watched with my mouth hanging open.
I had never seen something so disgusting. As I processed it later I realized I had seen that play out in my own life. I have chased the garbage truck too, hungry for new trash. The world was the truck and its hallow ideas of identity and satisfaction were the waste. You think it’s going to bring you something good, but it’s the same old thing just in a new shiny wrapper. But if you know nothing else, if you have never tasted hope, then why not keep chasing?
These families knew no hope; they had never tasted the riches of a relationship with the King. I have. I have over and over. New mercies are poured out on me every day. Mercies that give me a visual of how ridiculous I look chasing after the world instead of the Lord.
I have tasted hope. And I’m never going back.