My eyes are closed and my soul is in conflict. So many things tackling my senses at once and my mind has trouble processing what my eyes have just seen.

When I open my eyes…it’s still there so far below me. The trash. The dump. The ants scurrying over it…wait, no…those are people. There are makeshift tents down there.

I shift closer to the edge of the cliff. I’m not going to fall, but I feel like I have to be seeing something wrong and a closer inspection will solve the confusion. My eyes try to make sense of the layers of color and shapes.

But my eyes are not deceiving me…the Guatemala City dump has families that live there, sorting through the trash to find food and items to sell for a meager amount. Grandparents, parents…children. Living in horrid conditions…how can the world exists like this?

My heart plummets as I am called by the rest of the team to go. Why is no one doing anything?

Assaulting my ears as I turn away is a musical sound that doesn’t fit the view I have been soaking in. My brain struggles to place the sound in this place where it shouldn’t logically survive. It is like the atmosphere was tickled with a sound so feathery light that allowed it to travels for miles unhindered.


I hear the laughter of a child.

In a dump.

Sadness, anger and an intrepid sense of injustice washes over me as I turn to walk away from a moment that has marked me.

It’s been years since I first stood on that cliff, but ever since, my soul cannot escape the memory of that sound.

I could have very easily not heard the laughter. I could have ignored it. I could have decided to wall up that moment and never think of it again.

But God uses our senses to remind us that this world is not right and this is not what he intended. He uses those moments to ignite us to his mission…

God gave you ears to hear…but the next time he wants you to hear, will you listen?  How will you respond?


There once was a little girl who had not a care in the world. Her bed was warm. Her belly was full. Her bike had tires. Her family took fantastic vacations. She went to school. She had water out of not only a kitchen faucet, but a bathroom faucet, too, plus a toilet. Unfortunately…she lived in a bubble called suburbia. And in the grand scheme of the world, suburbia is miniscule.

Suburbia. The place where you have to drive a car, most likely getting one at age 16 when you are able to drive legally. It is also the place where you eat out at restaurants…a lot of them. In general, we have everything we need plus everything we don’t. Oh, and where coffee is a necessity instead of a luxury.

There is a big, bold, thick bubble that shields most Americans from what I honestly think is reality. When foreigners look in…we appear to live on a movie set, because our lives are so far away from any form of life that they know.

There are two sides of this coin. One, our worldview needs to bust open. Two, we need to stop imposing the way we live on other cultures, and expecting them to fall into line because we are ‘saving’ them from their shacks and poverty.

Don’t get me wrong. I know poverty exists. I’ve seen it, and it is blatantly wrong…please see post on injustice.

But sometimes our perverted American worldview gets stuck thinking that anything below us is poverty. And that theory is dreadfully wrong. It is not reasonable to assume that our way of building homes will work in all climates and environments that are unlike anything in America.

And yes, a thousand times yes, everyone in this world should have clean drinking water, and good sanitation. But that doesn’t mean it has to be inside every home. The communities that get water together have beautiful relationships with each other that put any friendship you have to the test.

Mel's photo on our 2nd visit.

Many would argue with me…but I don’t think you’ve truly lived until you’ve walked in raw sewage, held an orphan craving touch, eaten something unidentifiable, lived for a week somewhere that has no relief for heat, walked with a stranger through a rough time or looked a homeless person in the eye and called them by name.

I also don’t think you’ve truly lived until you study the places in the Bible that tell you to go. Live sent. Be more. Love radically. Love a complete stranger without understanding why.

See the world as God sees the world, because I guarantee you…he looks at the suburban bubble and sighs. He knows there are people mobilizing others within that bubble, but he also knows what lies beyond that bubble for us. He knows the life we can grab onto by allowing him to bust open our worldview. The simple fact is most people don’t want to live that far outside their comfort zone.

Denver. China. Appalachia. Russia. Liberia. Guatemala. Haiti.

God has used each one of those places to widen my view on the world. He’s actually busted it open so many times I’ve lost track. The hard part was allowing it. And now…the ironic part is I am more comfortable in any of those places than I am living the Suburban bubble. But the beautiful part is that when he makes the world smaller for you…you see him so much more.

‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.’ [Neale Donald Walsch]