by George Allen
George Allen traveled to Guatemala on a Vision Team this October, where he helped build a home for Braulio and his family. The family had earned the home by working sweat-equity hours. Once home, George recounted the following story.
The construction site rested atop several city blocks on a steep hill; being from Illinois, we called it a mountain. The winding path up the hill was mostly dirt with some high erosion areas paved with cobblestones. It was the only way up and the only way down for everyone that lived on the side of the mountain. During the week we witnessed many people carrying heavy loads up the hill to their homes, from food to firewood to concrete building blocks, 12 blocks at a time. We all got to experience the walk up the hill, mostly empty handed though. On Tuesday morning I got to experience it three consecutive times carrying several long 2 x 4’s each time. I would compare it to doing about 15 – 20 minutes on a stair master machine at 5,000 ft elevation with a few 2 x 4’s on your shoulder.
Our first construction task was making the concrete floor for the house we built. Braulio, the father of the family, wore the same rubber boots we were wearing. But instead of socks on his feet he had lined his boots with the paper from a cement bag.
Imagine making the walk up the hill I just described in big rubber boots with paper from cement bags for socks. Braulio did it on a daily basis… just one of many hardships he has to endure. Steve and I decided we would give him some of our socks. On Wednesday morning we arrived at the site and I lead him around a corner and handed him several pairs of white socks. No words were spoken during that five second transaction but I will never forget the look of gratitude on his face as he accepted them.
Fast forward to the following Sunday. I’m riding in a nice car down Crescent Boulevard past huge houses. I am brought to tears by the vast difference in how Braulio and his family live and how we live. As I sit on my comfortable king-size bed every morning, putting on my socks, I think of Braulio and his family and the challenges that they may be facing that day. My struggles now seem very small by comparison.