Journal Entries from Guatemala Trip Participants
October 29, 2019
In February we will be sending another group to Guatemala, but we wanted to share some of the experiences of volunteers who were on our very first trip to Guatemala in summer 2019!
I went to sleep last night really listening to God remind me that our plans sometimes don’t correspond to His plans. It is time to take on an unfamiliar country with thirteen other people and give the people of Guatemala all of our love and attention for the next week. It took a lot of people just saying ‘yes’ and trusting God to make this happen. I am so excited to see what God has in store for us this week.
Today was our first day at the community. Having no idea what to expect, it is always an amazing thing when you can see God’s beautiful creation. I think that often I find myself in awe of His creation when I see a beautiful piece of land or an unreal sunrise. Today it hit me that God wants us to be in awe of the people He created as well. This is something I have been struggling with but sitting in bed tonight reflecting what I experienced today, I noticed that I was able to just find the beauty in everyone and focus on loving.
To start the day, we loaded the bus and hit the road. We were off to see the community in Cuilapa, Guatemala that we would be spending the next three days in. After a 30-minute drive up a mountain we stopped and didn’t see any houses or schools, I knew we would be doing a little hiking. After 30 minutes of hiking and a lot of sweat we finally were at the school. We were welcomed with open hearts and arms and I could sense that Jesus was not just working in us, but already in the people who were in this community. This is the third country I’ve been to where I couldn’t speak the language and I think about how awesome it is that we speak through smiles and love and can still communicate with each other even though we speak different languages. I just stuck around the kids and played a lot of soccer, while another group went a finished up some latrines for local families. For not speaking the same language, we sure put together a game of 7 versus 7 soccer super quickly. I love being surrounded by Jesus loving people, it makes for some good conversation! Excited to see what tomorrow brings!
One group headed back up to the mountains to complete two more latrines and the other continued to play with the kids. Giving so much effort to make the kids happy has been key to our relationships with the adults, and the kids seem to be having the time of their life with our group. The sun was shining a lot today. We completed one of the latrines and Julio, our HRI representative, had a First Church sticker to put on the door. The entire group loved that because it gave us a sense of ownership for our work and efforts there. I watched a member of our group pray over the mother of this home and I know that as far as language goes, the woman had no idea what she was saying, but it was visible that she knew exactly what was being said. We wrapped up our project late in the afternoon to meet with all the kids and their parents. Many of the older women, the principal, and the teacher were all very grateful and said nothing but great things. The principal said to us, with the whole village agreeing, “Not only are our doors always open to you, but so are our hearts.” This hit me because it is a big step to have foreign, unfamiliar people working the property that they have already worked so hard for, but it is another huge step to love those people too. This is a take-away because we need to love people like Jesus does; taking in a stranger as quick as we would take in a friend. They gave us each a bracelet at the end of the meeting as a gift which was really cool. They were proud of these and they were very sincere about giving them to us. We hope to finish a couple more latrines tomorrow and continue with a successful trip.
WOW. How is our last day in Cuilipa already over? These people took “love your neighbor” to a whole new level. I wish I could write about how I felt today, but, truly, I can’t. It was a feeling of a full/grateful heart every second of the day. We got to give every child in the community a gift. They were all so grateful and began to play with their gifts right away. One of my favorite things about these kiddos is that they could take a rock and make a fun game out of it. They know how to make the best out of what they have, and I can’t help to think about how Americans spend thousands of dollars on different toys say that they are bored. I am so grateful that I was reminded of how many opportunities we have in the United States, but I am sad that it seems that we are losing that ‘make the best out of what we have’ attitude and getting too worried about having the newest, coolest thing to keep us entertained.
After we said goodbye to the children, we all headed down to finish up our last latrine of the trip. I went and collected wood for the next group that would be coming. I took a few ‘million-dollar mental pictures’ that I hope never leave my head. We dropped the wood off at the next place and headed to meet the rest of our team. Final thoughts of this community: we came together as one for three short days. They welcomed us with open, loving hearts, they trusted us, and even though there was a language barrier; that didn’t stop us from making an impact on each other. At the end of this, I think back to the people who have asked me the question of why not just send money to the needy or who said that they would never go to another country. That is hitting my heart hard tonight. I think that everyone should experience this feeling once in their life. We were called to be disciples to ALL NATIONS. But we were also called to love our neighbor. Serving comes in different forms, and we should all, always be serving God, but sometimes it is important that we step out of our comfort zone, use the gifts God has given us, trust in Him and just say ‘yes’ to a new experience. Psalm 96:3 “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
A huge thank you to Lauren Stokes and Tim Schoonveld who were so kind to share their journals from their trip to Guatemala! For information on how you can get involved go check out our Guatemala page!
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