After several hours of travel, we arrived in Nebaj, Guatemala. This is the first city I called home when living in Guatemala. A rural village, well off the beaten path. There is no direct or easy route in getting there, only one road in that promises breath-taking views of mountain sides, valleys and canyons.
We unloaded our bags from the micro-bus and were quickly greeted by a familiar face, Miguel. For the weeks leading up to our trip, Miguel was the only person in Nebaj that we communicated with about our visit. The remainder of our friends would be in for a surprise when they knew we were there.
Making our way to the local restaurant, the sights and sounds brought a smile to our faces. Church music all around, moto’s in the streets, and children giggling as ‘two big white people’ walked through their community. We began up the stairs of the restaurant and there sat Ricardo, his back to us, and completely oblivious to what was about to happen.
“Como estas, Ricardo?” (How are you, Ricardo?)
In that moment, he swiveled in his chair ever so quickly, and in the most perfect English, with his jaw dropped to the floor, Ricardo replied, “Woooooow!” It was the response that you dream of from someone who holds a special part in your heart and that you haven’t seen in two years. It was the reply of someone with whom a relationship was built.
After a quick bite to eat and catching up, Ricardo invited us to his home to surprise the rest of the family. Minutes later, with the nieces and nephews in tow, we walked to the family farm to harvest some of the crop to distribute amongst the family households.
La Cosecha (The Harvest):
Only a couple acres of land, Ricardo’s family made use of every square inch in growing crop to ensure the entire family had food on the table. Each day family members tended to the land, picking only what was ready, and distributing the goods to all of the family. The land, this land, is a source of survival.
The cosecha (harvest) this season had been particularly rough. There was little to no rainy season which the crops need to grow. As a result, the crops were scarce and the prices were high – a terrible combination for a family already working their asses off to make ends meet. But, because Ricardo’s family invested time and effort into their land, they have been able to survive; and as the end of the harvest season draws near, they too have a ‘wow’ moment as there seems to be enough to survive the winter months.
Harvesting a Crop:
In order for a crop to grow, there are a number of variables that have to be considered before the harvest season begins. Additionally, there are the unforeseen circumstances that you pray you won’t have to experience – drought, too much rain, not enough nutrients.
Deciding what crop to grow isn’t the difficult decision. What terrain is best for that specific crop? Is the soil fertile enough to allow that crop to grow? Does it need sunlight or shade? How much water does it require? How many seeds should be planted? Question after question surfaces in the mind. All along, the goal is to know in your heart you made all the right decisions that will allow the seed to grow into a ‘usable’ product – something that will bring life to others.
Answering these questions and planting the seed isn’t the last of the battles. It demands attention – constantly. The crop requires hard work – plowing the land, tending the soil, and even making the half hour trek to and from just to make sure someone else isn’t poaching your land. All the while you pray. Pray like you’ve never prayed before that nothing disastrous will happen, and that in time, you can visit the crop one day and say to yourself, “Wow, I did this.”
And what happens if you don’t tend the crop?
If you don’t invest in it?
If you don’t care for it?
If you give up on it when times are hard?
Quite simply – it will never grow to full height. It will never develop fully. It will never achieve its true potential.
Harvesting a Relationship:
The irony of it all…
Relationships in our own lives follow a similar process. A relationship doesn’t just flourish overnight. Rather it is harvested over time – seldom weeks, often times months, and commonly years.
Is there someone with whom you want to build a relationship? An individual with whom you want to have a deeper relationship? Perhaps there is someone where there is a broken relationship that needs mended?
How do you begin to build what isn’t currently there?
You ask yourselves the same questions Ricardo’s family asks themselves – what kind of environment is best for building? How often do I need to tend to it? What qualities do I need to bring to the table to make this relationship grow?
After you have answered the questions, then you begin by planting a seed in that individual. But remember, planting the seed isn’t enough. You must provide the seed (person) with all the proper nutrients. Over the course of the growing season, don’t forget to sprinkle in plenty of time and effort, high energy levels, and extreme patience.
As the relationship grows, you will face obstacles. At times you will have too much of this or too little of that. Learn to be consistent. Within time, you will notice the change happening. You will feel it inside of you. Just as a seed turns into a plant and its roots extend deep into the soil, so too will your reach with another individual.
All the while you pray and remain rooted in faith because you know that if the crop achieves its full potential, it will be a source of life for you and others. More than just nourishing the body, the seed will grow into something that will nourish your soul.
Assuming you performed the needed work, you will return one day after an absence. In that moment you will find yourself with the same look that Ricardo had on his face when we surprised him.
Jaw dropped to the floor in sheer amazement, only able to utter one word – Wow!
(Note: The featured photo is a GOOGLE image of the mountains surrounding Nebaj, Guatemala)