A poor community in Paraguay has formed an amazing orchestra that plays instruments created from recycled trash. The young musicians come from the city of Cateura, a slum that’s built on a landfill. More than 1500 tons of trash gets dumped into the landfill every day. About 1,000 residents make their living by picking through the trash with long hooks called ganchos (hence the garbage pickers are called gancheros).
Favio Chavez, a young professional and musician, and Luis Szaran, a music conductor, have infused the landfill with warmth, dignity, and beauty. When Chavez saw the desperate poverty and dire health conditions at the landfill, he opened a tiny music school. At first Chavez loaned out his complete supply of five instruments, but he quickly had too many students. So Chavez asked one of the trash-pickers, Nicolas Gomez, to make some instruments from recycled materials to keep the younger kids occupied.
Eventually the students learned to play a small orchestra of miraculously redeemed instruments: a cello made out of an oil can and old cooking tools, a flute made from tin cans, a drum set that uses X-rays as the skins, bottle caps that serve as the keys for a saxophone, a double bass constructed out of chemical cans, and a violin made from a battered aluminum salad bowl and strings tuned with forks. The “Recycled Orchestra” plays classical music, Paraguayan folk tunes, and even a few rock pieces.
Chavez and Szaran’s and their friends see beyond what others see. Where most people see a pile of garbage, they see the potential for creating beauty and art. This is what God does for us. Romans 5:8 tells us that while we were were still sinners, Christ died for us. Through Christ, God takes the parts of us that are broken and battered and seemingly worthless and transforms us in to the people we were created to be.
What are some things in our lives that we toss out as garbage that could be used for higher purposes?
Are there people in our lives that we have decided to write off or toss out?
At times when you are feeling worthless, how does what God has done for us through Christ, mean to you?
Take some time in prayer today to give thanks for what God has done for us. Pray for those who live literally and figuratively out of garbage dumps. Take some time to rest in the presence of the one who created us and values us.