|April 2010 Letter from Mark Parcher
It's wonderful to see God putting the pieces of the "puzzle" together. Sometimes he does it in such a surprising way that we don't even realize it until we look back. That is one of the reasons that whenever we meet with local principals to ask them how we can help with their most pressing needs, we preface our conversations with "we can't promise you anything." We don't want to set any false expectations, and the fact is, while we have faith that God will do something, we seldom know how or when. The school cafeteria in St. Margaret Village is a good example.
St. Margaret is a small rural village in Belize where many people live at or below the poverty level. In 2008, the principal at the primary school expressed his desire to have a place where the kids could eat their lunches. Last month he got what he had hoped for, but it took nearly 100 volunteers and donors from two countries to get it done. The first to contribute was an American priest living in Belize. He enabled the construction of a roof on six posts along with some tables and benches. Then, in 2009, as a part of their annual community service, the PathLight students took on the challenge of building a concrete floor. Funding for materials came from the people who had supported a PathLight volunteer teacher who had served at the school.
The third group to contribute were teenagers from Green Fields Country Day School, a college prep school in Tucson, Arizona. Rather than going to Disneyland or the beach, these students spent their free time mixing concrete by hand, cutting rebar, hauling concrete blocks and cutting lumber. After their work, the school in St. Margaret finally had a clean, dry and fully enclosed cafeteria.
I never would have predicted how this project would get done. Funds came from both Christian and non-Christian donors from North and Central America and the labor ranged from local experienced workers to young inexperienced volunteers. However, looking back, I can see that God used this project not just to build a cafeteria, but also to build relationships that crossed cultural, religious and socio-economic boundaries. And through these relationships, he was bringing hope -- the hope that comes from knowing that people care about the poor and are willing to demonstrate their compassion with action.
PS: Interested in going on a service trip? I'd be happy to talk to you about how your church, class, school, or other group could have an amazing experience!