While traveling in Guatemala sometime back, I had the privilege of spending time with some of the CHE committee members in a community way up in the mountains. The high altitude and cold breeze made it hard to move fast, but the fascinating community I was visiting had my full attention.
The village had an excellent leadership team composed of local farmers. The volunteers that they had hand-picked to become CHE volunteers were an amazing bunch of hard-working individuals. Life at that altitude was difficult; from fetching safe drinking water to cultivation, to taking the produce to the local market to sell. Even getting to school was a laborious task for the children. And yet, life went on at a feverish pace, and the women, who worked harder than anyone else, still found time to hone their creative skills by weaving shawls. There were many small make-shift handlooms everywhere one turned, displaying the vibrant and happy Guatemalan colors.
We walked around the community listening to the community members as they talked about the changes that had taken place in their village because of CHE. The improved health, the sense of belonging, the coming together as a community to address serious community problems. Change was obvious everywhere, including the modified community hall/Church building where we went later to sit and talk.
The one thing that had suffered, however, was their characteristic shawl weaving industry. The competition from the cheaply available fabric from automated weaving mills, compounded by the high cost of thread and the comparatively low cost of hand-woven shawls, were threatening the existence of this beautiful handicraft. It was a time of feeling joy and sadness simultaneously over the obvious changes.
In the village that day, we saw multiple make-shift looms with women fervently working on them, weaving their beautiful colorful shawls. Imagining a possible disappearance of this beautiful industry, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the local people feared no such thing! This was a part of their history and culture, and no external forces would ever steal it from them!
My spirit was lifted as I enjoyed watching the weaving, fascinated that it continued unhindered as we spoke with the women. There was no break in the design or loss in the pace of the weaving. The threads were soon woven together into a beautiful tapestry, with the design emerging exactly as intended by the weaver.
God does the same for us, He weaves beautiful threads into our lives as we journey. Once the weaving begins, it is hard to imagine how the design will emerge, but as we wait, and time passes, it becomes apparent and is beautiful. To me, it was a profound thought, but to the lady doing the weaving, it was merely a fact of life. “That is what I tell my daughters and granddaughters as I teach them to weave,” said the lady while running her fingers over the newly woven shawl. They were words of wisdom from one who had obviously spent long hours meditating and considering her own life. “Do you know and love the Lord Jesus?” I asked her through my translator. Tears filled her eyes, “With ALL my heart,” she replied. “Each shawl I have woven for my family have my prayers and conversations with God woven into them.”
How shallow were my thoughts! I had seen it as an economic enterprise, trying to understand a cost benefit ratio, when all along it had been something far more valuable than money could ever buy. What a beautiful garment to be wrapped in. Let us continue to converse with and pray to God for the salvation and future of our children and grandchildren.
The scriptures say, For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)
I had gone to that village to see a program, but I learned many truths from the villagers that day of their relationship with God.