The Milagro Bean Field War by John Nichols is a story about Mexican farmers reclaiming their lost rights and their lost lands from the hands of evil land developers. The story starts with one individual and his rebellious act to tap into an irrigation system to start a bean field to sustain him and his family. This simple act, of course, is not without consequences. Seeing the farmer and his bean field inspires the neighbors to also stand up against the developers and take back what is theirs. It is a wonderful story about people coming together to fight injustice, as well as the power of one individual to inspire change.
The story reminds me of a small village in Honduras that I visited on a mission trip not long ago. Our goal was to build a water system to provide clean running water to every household in the village. The problem these villagers had was not the absence of water, or even the loss of their land, but simply the lack of resources because they were poor. After years of lobbying with their government these people had given up hope that their situation would ever improve. Until one individual saw an opportunity.
In this case it was a woman who had heard about a local engineer and mission worker, Arnoldo Alvarez working in the area. She contacted him and asked him to come to her village. For her and many other women there was a lot at stake. These women were responsible for carrying the water every day from the river uphill to their houses, often on steep, dirt roads. She could only imagine how a water tap in her house would make the daily chores more bearable. And Arnoldo listened. He knew of our mission team willing to work in places where nobody else would go. Arnoldo started the project and by the time we arrived we could lay the pipe and connect the water to the houses.
I will never forget the excitement of the women to see fresh running water coming from a tap in their kitchen. But it was even more amazing to see the effect it had on the whole village. Like in the Milagro-story, what these people gained was not only access to natural resources but also a new sense of self-esteem and pride, the realization that great things can happen if we are willing to put aside our differences and work together. It is a sense of community that can transcend geographical boundaries. By the time we left we felt deeply connected with these people that had hosted us, worked with us and shared with us their joys and sorrows. The water had done so much more than we imagined; it had cemented a bond that will last forever.
This is Conny Bogaard for HPPR. This winter I went on a mission trip to a small village in Honduras where we worked on a water system that now provides 60 households with clean running water.