What’s Your Purpose?
Written by Plant With Purpose on January 18, 2012 in General
by Aly Lewis
Recently I was posed the question, Why are you here?
Not why-do-people-exist or what-is-the-meaning-of-life, but why am I HERE at this juncture in my life. At this computer at this desk with these coworkers at this job to do these tasks.
One answer is this:
February 2006, Managua, Nicaragua
Plastic smoldered and filled the air in a hazy smokescreen that seared my eyes and bit at my nostrils in the city dump of Managua, Nicaragua. Skeletal cows munched on the aluminum cans that children searched all day for in the city dump. This was their home, their school, their playground. Our yellow school bus heaved and rattled into the dump. We pressed our faces against the hot window panes, peering out into the ocean of refuse. When we realized where we were, our faces dropped, eyes averted and laughing silenced. One man lifted his dark, gnarled hand to brush the sweat from his furrowed brow. Our bus grinded to a halt and the door creaked open. Trevor, one of our program facilitators poked his head out and yelled something to the man in broken Spanish.
Did he mind speaking to us for a minute? Did he mind sharing his story with us?
The man carefully stepped over the debris, clambering his way to the open bus door. He moved through the sea of trash like an experienced sailor. Like he’d long since lost his land legs. We wore fresh skirts and smoothed slacks. The old man glanced down at his modest t-shirt, sweat stained and torn. We wanted to know what his life was like. How was he surviving? What did he think about God? Parched and at a loss for words, the man swallowed a few times, his tongue wetting his chapped lips, gums, and the few teeth he had. Then he told us the only thing he knew.
“Dios ha bendecido a mi familia.” “God has blessed my family,” he said. “God is good. Before this garbage dump we were on the streets, and that was worse. God has provided, and God is good.”
Blessed? The last time I checked, my definition of blessed did not include the privilege of sorting through trash and watching your children inhale toxic fumes on a daily basis.
Trevor thanked him for sharing and handed him a cold, dripping water bottle. He greedily grabbed the fresh water, and the condensation formed tiny rivulets in the deep, cracked creases of his craggy palms—living water in a thirsty, barren land, fresh water in a sulfuric sea.
That’s part of it. That’s part of why I’m here. Writing this blog. Working at this nonprofit that serves the rural poor. Thinking these thoughts. Still struggling with the word blessed . Still working through what it means to see God at work in this unjust world.
It’s why I’m HERE at Plant With Purpose. It’s why I’m so passionate about the work of our field staff who empower and transform the lives of the rural poor.
It’s why I have hope of a better story. A story of families restoring their land, raising their incomes, and learning to thrive BEFORE they end up desperate, on the streets or at the dump.
It’s why I can tell a story like this:
Meet Jayaw Licha from Panasawan, Thailand. Jayaw Licha is a dedicated farmer with a wife and a child. With the help of Plant With Purpose, his life entire life has been turned upside down in the best possible way. Plant With Purpose taught him sustainable agriculture techniques, such as interplanting crops with trees and using organic fertilizers and pesticides, which he applied to his farm.
Now his thriving farm produces an impressive variety of food year round—coffee and tea, corn and beans, mangos, bananas, and pineapple, just to name a few! His land produces enough to feed his family and he sells his corn for extra income.
In fact, his farm is doing so well he no longer has to leave his community to work as a day laborer to support his family. Ultimately, he doesn’t have to leave, his family doesn’t have to leave, and there is no hint of slums, begging, or garbage dumps in their future.
So today, HERE, I am grateful to write such a story of hope and have my eyes opened to the blessing (yes, I said it) of seeing God at work in an unjust world.
But enough about me, what brought you here? What’s your purpose?