Father Christian doesn’t look, talk or act like a priest — by which I mean he doesn’t fit the mold popular culture perpetuates.

When we joined the Dominican parish priest en route to a remote farming community in need of a water system, Fr. Christian arrived in jeans and a white t-shirt. If a colleague hadn’t let me in on the secret, I would’ve assumed he was a local farmer or maybe a water engineer.

On the bumpy mountain road to our destination, Fr. Christian waved hello to every person we passed, and he pointed out every coffee bean farm with the exuberance of a child spotting cows. He grew up in this world, close to the earth, with dirt under his fingernails and manure on the soles of his shoes. He doesn’t pity the poor — he’s proud of the poor and the work they do each day — and he carries himself as if saying prayers were no less natural than rising at daybreak to feed the chickens.

Along the way, we stopped to pick up a delivery that had been stranded the day before when Fr. Christian’s truck couldn’t clear a muddy incline. The stack of PVC pipes was significantly longer than the bed of our pickup truck, but Fr. Christian went to work. We secured the load, cleared the hill, got stuck in another muddy patch, and ultimately reach our destination, where families suffering from insufficient water access waited to greet us.

This is what it looks like to work alongside the poor.