Garbage Pickers: Reality Check

Oh, nuts. I forgot to take the garbage out the other night. So last night I had to stick the bags of garbage in the car and drive to the dumpster by the open-air market a few blocks from my home. When I got there I saw two men and a woman going through the trash. That’s not unusual here in Guatemala; I have seen that often, people looking for cans, returnable bottles and other things, and I have heard about the people that live in the dump, surviving from what they find there, food, clothing, anything. 

But somehow last night was different. Maybe because before I could even close the car door, they had ripped my bags open, searching through diapers, rotted food, and everything else. No pride or self-consciousness, as if they didn’t even notice that I was there. And they just seemed like normal people, not bums or drunks or druggies, just probably some kids’ mom and dad, somebody’s neighbor… the thought hit me, “Nobody should have to live like this!” How can I just dump my trash (which I am prosperous enough to generate in the first place), get in my car, drive to my comfortable home so I can throw my clothes in the washing machine, and just forget about these folks.

Forget about them. I haven’t been able to get them out of my mind. I have some ideas of how I could go back and help these people from time to time. I feel some kind of responsibility… not guilt, or pity, but just the need to even things out a little bit. I know I can’t solve the problem. But I feel the Christian responsibility to share if I have abundance, with those who don’t.

I know that giving to the poor will not lift them from their poverty; yet we  still need to do it. Perhaps it is their fault – perhaps they are addicts, alcoholics, or have some other problem that keeps them in poverty. But we still need to show mercy and give. We can’t interview people to see if they are worthy of our generosity. We just need to give.

I’m still praying for God to show me how I can involve myself in activities that actually empower people to change their own situation and break the poverty cycle in their lives. The old adage of “teach a man to fish…” does apply. It is important to get people to a point to where they don’t need to depend on handouts.

But until then, I know I must simply give. In Jesus’ name, as His representative, in His love. And as I do, I will trust that somehow I am helping His Kingdom to come in someone’s life.

I know that is how I will see it come in my own.



One thought on “Garbage Pickers: Reality Check

  1. Hi Bettie… This is close to my heart. I am so glad you addressed it!

    God leads Randy and I to all sorts of these people – in all sorts of encounters. One time we were on our way to a service call at CVS Pharmacy – ( the whole store was hard down-computers) and the Lord began speaking to me to pick up aspirin, H2O2, antiseptic wipes, and all sorts of stuff with which to treat wounds and to bandage. It was an expensive prospect, but I wandered the store accumulating the items as I felt lead.

    Afterward, we were crossing a large intersection and I spotted a man on the other side. The Holy Spirit said “Go”! It took quite a bit of turning around and backtracking to find him – he had disappeared. We went thru the backs of gas stations and finally found him. Turns out he was homeless. We fed him and then he showed us the most awful sore on his wrist/area. He thought he had been bitten by a spider. It was so nasty…AND he was filthy.. We took care of him. Randy took his hand and let him know that whatever he was experiencing down her on earth, was only going to be for a short while but once that was over, there was an eternity to be dealt with. Anyway, we prayed with him and let him know the Way.

    That sort of thing has happened to us quite regularly…and your are right, we just need to give.

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