We enter into a community with the promise that we will work for a place to stay and food to eat. At times when we didn´t have work we wouldn´t eat (many a time the people were so generous and gave us food anyway). For most of the people they live hard lives and seem to age faster than normal. They work from sun up to sun down with little variation in their average routine. Though difficult we were fortunate enough to help the people and work along beside them.
Every morning Andrew (my partner) and I would wake up with the sun do our usual morning routine and walk outside, sit on a wooden stump and wait for whatever was to come that day. If food came then usually came with it the promise to work. The first few days were the easiest as all we did was seperate potatoes and later spread them out. Though boring, it was not all that bad. The people also made this type of potato called Chuño. It takes a long process of several days to make these things, and there is stomping on the potatoes which we got to partake later in our stay. They are probably the worst things known to man.
Right now being in harvest season the work we did the most had to do with wheat whether it was cutting or carrying. It took us some time getting used to cutting the wheat but after awhile we took pride in our work. (Weirdly enough we began to have conversations about wheat like, ¨that wheat was great to cut because it was long and smooth unlike yesterday which was very dry.¨ We realized we had cut too much wheat at this time.) Many times we spent all day cutting fields of wheat, but sometimes we would have to walk an hour or so just to get to the field.
Our health was good basically the whole time. Andrew got sick one day (the day we had community work day repairing a stone road…good times), and I got sick the very last day which has since affected all my team members. I cut up my hands pretty bad doing stupid things (like cutting my own hand with a sickle). We had to take vitamins to supplement the lack of everything in potatoes. We had potatoes every meal, and though sometimes it was in a soup type deal, most of the time it was just a basket of potatoes. In the end I did not bathe for three entire weeks (new record). We did our best to wash up whenever we could be there was not much of a chance really at all to do so. When I finally got to bathe it was as if the dirt was caked on and took several showers to finally remove the filth.
Though it was very difficult working and living like the Quechua it is of the upmost importance and advantage to do so, if only to not be a burden to the people as Paul did in Thessalonica, ¨for you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to you.¨ Also in this way we have become more like the people, equals, and not just strangers with some foreign message. It is amazing how deep with the people we were able to be just because we were living life like they do.
¨He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God´s fellow workers…¨
As we keep planting we know that God gives the growth. But how thankful we truly are to be given the privilege to work not only for God but with God. To think we are His ¨fellow workers¨ is a humbling thought but it also gives us strength and hope to face each day. And though our work was very physical and not many people could see the eternal results, we worked with confidence that God was working the whole time and that makes all the difference.