Think things are hard?

By Lynn Moffett
Special to The PREVIEW
I thought I knew what poverty looked like until Charla Pereau invited me to take publication photographs of her orphanage in the arid central reaches of Baja California.
This miracle ministry in the tiny village of Vincente Guerrero started in an abandoned, run-down motel, and laid the foundation for the book “Charla’s Children.” The 72-acre facility now houses dormitories, schools and a medical/dental center that takes care of both orphans and anyone else in the area.
My outlook changed the day Charla said, “Come on. I want to take you to the place where we minister outside our enclave.”
A short drive away from the only real highway on a rutted dirt road took us to a chain-link fenced area. A stark, barren landscape met my gaze. Nothing else for miles. One double gate allowed entry. I didn’t want to see any more, and I didn’t want to go through the gateway.
“These are farm workers,” Charla told me as we drove in. “They provide a big grocery chain in the states with tomatoes year-round. These people are trucked from here to the fields farther south and work throughout daylight hours. The pay is 17 cents per male and five cents per female worker per day.”
My hostess went on, “The bosses import the poor from Oaxaca, located near the border with Guatemala. We share the gospel, while the Communists try to indoctrinate.”
Dirt carpeted every inch of the camp and dust covered the crudely erected buildings. Nothing more than hovels. The lucky workers secured a structure built of cardboard. The unlucky dwelt in homes made from weeds. Charla insisted I peek in one where I found an open cook fire. Each place had a similar setup. One spark would ignite the entire camp. Goosebumps raised on my arms.
The outhouses, also built from weeds, measured 3 feet by 3 square — 5 feet tall, held together with twine.
The most telling moments were spent watching young children, brown clouds rising underfoot as they played with no care. In stark contrast, a single 10-year-old girl, bucket in hand, plodded away from the camp.
Charla said, “She must travel over half a mile to get water for her family.”
The child trudged on, shoulders slumped, all hope gone.
She is what devastated me. Those younger kiddos didn’t care where they lived. But here she was, no more than 10, with all hope, all dreams — gone.
The trials of anyone’s life can steal hope, whether in Vincente Guerrero, Hollywood, Coeur de Lane or Boston.
Though my life has never been as dismal that little girl’s, sometimes it’s difficult for me to apply the wisdom of scripture to critical situations I face. I’ve known people of wealth struggling to pay bills, others facing homelessness. It isn’t where we fit on the prosperity scale. Hardship is hardship.
We can hold on to our dreams, our hopes, our futures. We needn’t plod, shoulders slumped, beaten down. We can be like the other children in Baja, running and playing in the dust.
If we trust.
A new song is getting air time, “Never Once.” The chorus is, “Never once did I ever walk alone, Never once did you leave me on my own. God, you are faithful.”
Experience tells me this is true.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.” — Matthew 6:25

This story was posted on February 15, 2018.