Sunday, August 17, 2014

Remembering Heydi from Chajul

In 2010, we visited the town of Chajul in the Ixil Triangle. This is an area that was was in the heart of the conflict during the Guatemalan Civil War. Today, the area is poor, isolated, and forgotten by many.  The people of Chajul speak Ixil...and some Spanish. They are decent, hard-working, humble people.

We visited Chajul and several other Guatemalan communities, looking for a place where we could establish a sustainable clean water system. We were testing water and looking for a group of people who had the vision to build a water business. We had the privilege of working alongside Compassion International student centers using Healing Waters International equipment. 

As we walked around Chajul, we encountered a lot of youth who seemed to find us fascinating and perhaps even funny. I was taking pictures as fast as I could. One lovely young lady gave me a big smile and the opportunity for an unforgettable photograph.

If I had spoken Ixil, I might have asked her name, but I didn't. We finished our visit and went home. Eventually, we selected Chajul as the community where we would work, and as we looked back through all of the photography, our graphic designer (Stacie Burley) chose this picture as the face of the JBU Guatemala Water Project. 

As the project progressed, the face of this young lady continued to haunt me. I don't know how many times I told people that I didn't even know her name or anything about her. She had no idea that she was the face of the project and that in this way she was helping her people.

We raised our funds, worked through all of the training and logistics, and planned our return to Chajul in 2012 where we would establish a source of clean water for the community. The face of this young lady continued to haunt me. Would she ever know how much her face meant to this project and ultimately to her community?

Upon arrival, we presented a picture of the girl to the leadership of the church. They knew her. Her name was "Heydi," and she had been a member of the Compassion program but was no longer attending. We wanted to meet her and give her family a basket of food, a small way of paying her for using her face in our posters and web site. The staff at the church went to find her and see if we could go visit. Heydi lived with her siblings and her single mom. They didn't want us to come to their house because they were very poor, but they agreed to come see us at the church. She arrived, and through an Ixil translator, we tried to share the story. We had a basket of food and a copy of the poster. At first, Heydi seemed very uncertain about the whole thing, but she eventually started smiling and owning the moment.

That was the last time I saw Heydi. If her life is like other girls in these areas, she will probably be a mother at a very young age, and she will probably work very hard and be trapped in a life of poverty and exploitation. At least for a moment, I think she understood that she was the young lady whose face helped transform a community. 

I think about Heydi a lot, and I hope I get to see her again someday. She remains in my prayers.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Does That Make Sense?

I called Domino's and ordered large, thin-crust, 3-topping pizza for carry-out. The voice on the other end of the phone confirmed, "And you said carry-out?" My response, "That's right, sir." The voice then told me, "OK, that'll be $14.10. Give us about 10 minutes."

I walked into the local Domino's and confirmed that the "Monday-Thursday large 3-topping carry-out only for $7.99" was still prominently posted on the window. It was. I opened the door and was greeted by the typical chorus of "welcome to Domino's!" The young man at the counter asked how he could help me, so I said, "I'm Joe, I'm here to pick up my pizza, and by the way, shouldn't I get that price?" (pointing to the words on the window). His response, "Oh,sir! that is for carry-out only!!"

TIME OUT: Isn't that why most people walk into a Domino's? For carry-out? We don't order home delivery and then drive the store, right? OK, maybe he was having a bad day.

Back to the story. The young man looked confused. As I began to explain that the pizza that I was picking up truly was carry-out, a young lady was making her way to the cash register. Very courteously she said, "Don't worry sir, I'm fixing it right now. We are not allowed to offer that price to our customers. You have to ask for it. Does that make sense?"

TIME OUT: I really don't like it when someone makes a straightforward statement and then asks, "Does that make sense?" It is kind of demeaning. Yes, I have the capacity to understand straightforward statements. If I don't, I'll ask for clarification. "Does that make sense?" is one of my trigger phrases, so if you say that to me and I subsequently appear to be biting my tongue or some other part of the inside of my mouth, now you know why.

Back to the story. OK, the young lady was trying to be helpful. Did that make sense. Yes, I understood her predicament, but the Domino's policy (to me) was not logical. So I said, "Well, it does and it doesn't." (This was all very friendly.) Her response to me, "Well, if you want to keep your job with Domino's, it makes sense."


Dear Domino's Senior Management: I am neither angry nor complaining...just making an observation. You really shouldn't play these kinds of games with your customers and your associates. If you offer a price, offer it. You are currently telling your customers, "We really are willing to sell for less, but if you don't know that or are too timid to ask, we're gonna make an extra six bucks off of you!" It is an extra step for the customer to have to ask for the price. Why not simply serve the customer? And I am saddened by the thought of the associate who thinks they might get in trouble for taking the initiative to tell the customer what the true price is. Domino's, this is not a big thing, but it is the kind of thing that makes people feel belittled and leaves a bad impression of your company. Why not just honor and serve your people? Does that make sense?