17 Sep

One year ago, I stepped foot into the slums of La Carpio. Whether one arrives by bus or car, the vista is the same as there is only one entrance and exit from this urban slum. It looks like this… The days I visit remain the same week after week, month after month. And now, instead of just glimpses of poverty and disenfranchisement, I actually recognize faces of scrap vendors, jobless youth, and even dogs who remain in the same location each time I visit the neighborhood clinic.

Some of the residents of La Carpio are now more than acquaintances, they have become friends. Women who strike up conversations at the bus stop, and then sit and chat while the bus maneuvers the congested streets of San Jose. Shop owners that greet me as I carefully purchase needed supplies at the local pulperia. Clients who visit the clinic for well woman exams or prenatal care. Employees of the clinic who share their meager breakfast and coffee with me when I arrive early.

Yet, this week, as I drove past the safer, middle-class neighborhood which ends at a local amusement park, and continued along the rubbish-strewn, deserted stretch of road linking La Carpio to San Jose, the images were even more stark. The amount of discarded trash seemed to have multiplied, the smells of burning waste intensified, and the obvious differences in living conditions magnified. Complicated lives, unheard of situations, disease, hunger, and the darkness of sin. And often, the oppressive atmosphere weighs on me until I arrive home and shower away the accumulated dust from my body and tensions that weigh on my soul.

But I have recently been reminded that sin’s vise-like grip is not only on the discarded, abandoned areas like La Carpio, but on flower-edged suburban neighborhoods, corporate boardrooms, and government edifices. Only Christ’s love can redeem all of these for His purpose.

One Response to “Discarded”

  1. read2kds September 24, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    Oh Cathi…you hit the nail on the head!!! I am trying so hard to wrap my brain around all that I saw in the squatter community we spent so much time in while in the Philippines. I love it there so much, but the darkness of sin and godlessness weighs you down. I am praying that I would recognize and be as saddened by the godlessness in middle class suburban America JUST AS MUCH. It seems easier to overlook when it is wrapped in pretty packages. Miss you much and dying to talk to you. Saw so many things there that made me think of you and your midwifery skills. Blessings on your day, Amy

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