A year and ½ earlier, Rich had gone to a youth leaders summit in Quito. There, Russ Cline, coordinator of the event, had taken the small group to the garbage dump in Quito- wherethey ministered to the 25 or so that were rummaging the garbage. The experience had really impacted Rich, and lately we’d realized that our youth were maturing and although penniless themselves, looking for ways to reach out and minister to others. It was the perfect plan!
Just as Rich has brilliant ideas at the worst times, I have the worst attitude at the most brilliant times! My list of ‘whywe should not go to the garbage dump’ was LONG.
• -No one has ever been
• -Is there even a garbage dump?
• -What if no one lives at the garbage dump?
• -What if we are attacked?
• -What if we pick up a rare disease?
• -What will we do with our kids?
• -It’s going to smell!
Each concern was answered, and as usual, Rich won.
We met the youth groupat our church early Tuesday morning. There was a huge turn out, all enthusiastic. It was as if we were going to Disney instead of a smelly, disease infested garbage dump! Even my own kids were excited! “I am the only sane one in this group” I thought smugly as Rich called us to load up. Ours was the only car, so we were having a time trying to convince the taxi drivers to take us to the areaof the city where the garbage dump is. We had learned that indeed there is a large garbage dump, but it is on the outskirts of the city, in what seems to be the middle of the desert. It’s only neighbors are the Trujillo prison, and the multi-colored “red-light” district.
We finally found some brave taxi’s and loaded up the Kool-Aid, fruits, games, clothes and toys to give away. We hadshampoo and towels, lice medicine, and huge drums of water to wash hair, hands and face with. Some of the teens brought scissors, to offer hair cuts for free!
The trip was half an hour. In that time some teens got hungry and ate some of the bananas that we had brought to give away.
When we finally reached the turn-off, there was no doubt we were close. The smell was indescribable, and as wefollowed the dirt road, it only got worse. The flies began to circle our car. We kept driving. We could see garbage bags flying in the air above, but there was nothing around. We stopped at some shacks, but no one was around. I kept quiet as long as I could, and finally whispered to Rich, “gee, looks like there is nothing here, let’s go”. The smell was getting harder and harder to take, andthe car was quiet. One of our leaders got out of a taxi and called to us. “Pastor, let’s try this way”. “Alright”, Rich answered, “but this is the last try. The taxi drivers are getting antsy”.
Now that it looked like things weren’t going to work out, I started to feel guilty. “Lord, may your will be done, and help me to be big enough to obey you”. Just as I finished that prayer, Rich drovethe car up an incline. As our eyes got accustomed to the smoke and dust rising, we all gasped. We had found the garbage dump and there were HUNDREDS of people rummaging through the garbage. All were hooded with cloths covering their mouth and nose. Each had long pitchforks in their hands. Any skin showing was black with filth. Some were barefoot. It was as if we had discovered a small...