It's the Pie Stupid, Kind of....
In the last blog we talked about being on the right track. Is our work in Guatemala right? Are we doing the right thing?
My answer in the last blog was yes.
We are right. FTF is good. But then, being a former teacher, I had to go and ruin it all by asking the question, “How do I know?” Heck, how does anyone know? To answer this question I want to tell a quick story. It will be quick, I promise. Here goes:
A man was invited to attend the birthday party of an old woman, the grandmother of his best friend Jake. The man, we will call him Jim, wasn’t all that interested in the party, but he loved his buddy Jake. “Sure Jake, let’s go to your grandmother’s party.” Upon entering the home of Jake’s grandmother, Jim noticed that the place was packed. Delicious smells permeated the room and people from every generation, babies to babushka’s, stood delighting in the revelry. Jim enjoyed himself. He struck up numerous conversations with Jake’s family, finding out loads of information along the way. He learned about how grandma Jake had served as a nurse in the second World War, how Jake’s uncle had once played against Barry Bonds in little league, how Jake’s great grandfather had invented Silly Puddy. Jim had a grand old time. By the end of the night, he hoped to attend the next Jake family gathering. He was sold. He told his own friends.
But Jim’s friends weren’t sold. None of his buddies wanted to attend the next Jake family event, even if they had been told about it all. “Really, a birthday party for an old lady... I don’t think so.” They needed better reasons to go. They needed some concrete evidence of what was to come. So Jim broke out the numbers:
“They had five, FIVE, peanut butter pies!”
“The grandma told three, THREE, great dirty jokes.”
“There were at least six, SIX, hot cousins that you should meet!”
And guess what, Jim got some takers for the next party. He got four of his buddies to go. And they did. They attended the next Jake family party and had a nice time. They too liked the Jake family vibe, they too told their friends. A few of his friends even thought how nice it would be to raise a family that looked like the Jake family. One even ended up dating a Jake family cousin. The Jake family. They sure were great.
But how does one truly know that they "sure were great"?
Is the answer in the numbers? I mean there were five pies and six hot chicks. That was enticing. It did get Jim’s friends out the door, after all. Is it in the numbers? Is it in the stuff?
I think most of us know (and here I mean know) that the answer is not in the numbers. The answer is in the family. By that I literally mean, “within” the family. And it is only in the tasting, the talking, the time spent on task with the family that the answer is revealed. The answer is ontological, it is in being... there. In this way the folks at FTF are only as good as the relationships they build on the ground, where they work, where they live. How do we know? We know because we relate.
But this isn’t really rocket science. Or is it?
In many, many ways this is much more difficult than rocket science. Being present, being aware and in relationship is something that only God does really, really well. We humans constantly revert to thinking of ourselves. Imagine a day spent exclusively in the shoes of a brother. Imagine an unbroken morning thinking only of others. Talk about going to Mars. But alas, that is our mission and weirdly, also the method. Relationship is how we know. Love is how we measure. Numbers? We have them, they count for something, but they are only shadows of a much brighter truth.
Help us extend our work by helping us get into the neighborhoods where people suffer the most. If you’ll help, we’ll go. Stay tuned for more blogs on how we do this at FTF. Come and join us for a Kepi or come to Guatemala (or soon, we hope, to Sierra Leone) and visit us. In this ever changing technological maelstrom called modernity some things remain constant. Some things must. Let’s get lots done little by little!