Friday, September 13, 2013

Looking Beyond First World Problems and Finding Beauty

I don't want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to people, even those I've never met.”  –Anne Frank

We walk down a narrow, rocky, muddy path, littered with garbage. We pass by a grandfather with white hair working in a shop, fixing what appears to be a shoe. Chickens strut behind a straggly wire fence with holes littered with holes the size of softballs. We pass by the most primitive outhouse I have ever been compelled to enter (first world problems people). Beyond all that we are finally welcomed to the home of sisters, Dina and Monica, members of the World Vision youth orchestra, both students and teachers of music. And there we found beauty. 

Two days ago, we met Delma, whose 3-year-old daughter is in the World Vision music program at Palencia outside of Guatemala City. “I dream that she can worship the Lord with music,” Delma said. And that is exactly was sisters Dina, 23, and Monica, 20, are doing. Dina is a cellist and Monica a flutist. They are both former World Vision sponsor children, along with their mother.

Sisters, Dina,age 23, and Monica, age 20.

All of the musicians we meet echo a similar sentiment, that being a part of the World Vision music program has changed their lives. It helps them with their studies. Helps them stay focused. And provides opportunities they would never have otherwise.

“I am nothing without my cello,” Dina says. She credits practicing the cello as a therapy that helped her recover from surgery.

Her sister Monica says, “Many girls my age already are mothers, but thanks to music, we have other opportunities.”  She said that when she is facing problems in life she look to God instead of to the world.

After playing a couple of hymns for us, Monica says, “Every day we wake up hearing the music of the birds, the ducks, and the other animals, and see this beautiful place we live in . . . I may not be able to compete with the birds, but I am free to play music here." 
Angel, age 12
Photo: Laura Reinhardt
Not all of the children in the music program have sponsors. World Vision not only helps those children who have sponsors, but provides services for entire communities. 

Angel, a cellist, does not yet have a sponsor.  At 12, he has already been playing music for 8 years. His favorite composer is Bach. He hasn’t started composing his own music yet, but perhaps one day he will. When he plays the cello, the sound is rich and deep and transports his audience from a dimly lit cinder block home, to a grand hall. He dreams of playing for the symphonic orchestra and traveling the world someday.
Young girl with a cereal box violin.
Photo: Laura Reinhardt
World Vision teachers utilize the Suzuki method with a belief that every child can play an instrument and learn new skills. Children first learn respect for instruments by practicing on violins made from cereal boxes and sticks. The Suzuki method relies on the triangle of learning that includes the child, the teacher, and the parent. Parents are involved in the child’s training in music to encourage them to practice and listen to music at home. The parents we meet are as committed to the program as their children. From the way they quietly remind the littlest violinists to slow down with a whispered, “Mas despacio, mi amor.” To the pride on their faces when they listen to their children play.

Abner, age 7

Abner, age 7, has played the violin since we was 3 years old. Cookie Monster and his other stuffed animals serve as his audience when he practices at home.  All the practicing is paying off. Last year he won a national violin contest.

In just four years of playing, Abner has performed for two presidents of Guatemala. Others, like Monica, have traveled all over Guatemala and even to El Salvador with the orchestra. From the simple scales they practice, to the movements of the most famous classical composers, the music the children are learning in World Vision’s music program brings enjoyment to audiences far and wide.

Perhaps Monica said it best. "We don't have all the wealth in the world, but it's important to thank God for what we do have, love and family."

Sponsor a Child in Guatemala

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