I have been fortunate enough in my life to only been exposed to real third world poverty twice and one of these is this trip. The first was the summer of 2013 when I went on the other Capital mission trip to Guatemala. While both trips have been to countries that are experiencing extreme poverty I can’t help but be struck by the differences.
Even after only two days in Swaziland, I have noticed the cultures of the countries are surprisingly different in interesting ways. For example, Guatemala doesn’t really have an upper class; whereas, Swaziland has shiny new BMWs and Audis interspersed with dilapidated buildings and barbed wire on every house. In Guatemala none of the cars were new let alone new and at some points there were communities built on mounds of trash. Another significant difference is how people talk to one another and us. The Swazi people are very closed and private to the point that it is hard to get them to even talk about their relationship status. In Guatemala, I had multiple deep talks with people wanting to share their religious story or asking for us to pray for them about health, work, or family.
Behind these differences in culture and class prominence, there were also startling similarities, which is cool when you think about how these cultures have never really had any opportunities to come in contact with one other. Both had immense national pride and the hope for a brighter and more successful future for their country. Both the Swazis and Guatemalans also had this beautiful acceptance of their dependence on God. They didn’t feel that was a show of weakness but rather celebrated that God had helped at all. While they worked to make people’s lives better and improve the country, both peoples were content and thankful for what they do have. This fact has been humbling and paradigm shifting and I would love to try to remind myself of this when I return to the US. -Sasha