I saw a box of reading glasses in our Guatemala warehouse last year, and I was a little disappointed. It’s important that Vine maintains a high standard for the medical supplies we deliver: no machines that “kind of” work; no out of date antibiotics. Nothing that can’t be put to good use by someone working urgently to heal, improve, or save a life. When I look at the boxes in the warehouse, it’s easy to imagine the good that vitamins will do. Wheelchairs are exciting because I know an entire family’s life is about to change. Basic supplies are especially moving because a person who needs to cover a wound and can’t pay for a bandage is a person we want to help. But reading glasses?
I asked Dennis about them - Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon manage the distribution of our supplies in Guatemala - and he told me they’d be put to good use. Dennis knows exactly what he’s talking about, but I still couldn’t imagine those plastic plus-ones and plus-twos being more important than ranitidine, or exam gloves, or syringes.
A few weeks ago, Dennis and I dropped in on a clinic hosted by one of our partners, Iliana Sapon. The inside of the village community center was a riot of color and chatter. We were out in the country, and the women and girls dressed in traditional, handmade skirts and blouses, styles and weaves that go back centuries, long before any Europeans showed up. Iliana’s team of nurses had set up stations all around the room - intake, history, exam, prescription, pharmacy. But in the middle there was a loud group of women, and I wanted to see what had them so excited.
It was the glasses. Some of them were just laughing at the sight of their friends in glasses. They didn’t bother removing the tags, so their foreheads were watched over by little plastic squares.
But the really animated ones were the women trying on reading glasses for the first time. They squealed, they laughed, they grabbed their closest neighbor’s sleeve and held it up to their noses.
They were weavers. Their grandmothers had taught them to weave, and they had taught their own granddaughters. They had hated to give it up when their reading vision left them, and they laughed like children to have it all back.
I don’t want to overstate the significance of a box of reading glasses, or any other supplies you send to Guatemala through Vine. We’re still going to be careful about the inventory we give away. But: I can tell you what those women told me that afternoon. The clothes they wore every day were hand made expressions of who they were and who they came from. They couldn’t do it anymore, and now they could. They told me to thank you, and anyone else who was involved in getting those glasses to them. Thank you.
I’m grateful to be a part of a community like Vine, where, somehow, every time I visit, I’m surprised by how effective the work is. I’m moved by the passion of the local workers like Iliana Sapon and her team. And I’m grateful we get to partner together - you, me, Iliana - to try to express Christ’s love to people in need. Thank you!