Know that I have enjoyed talking to you. It means the world that you share in my experiences, and know I value the part you hold in my life.. no matter how far away you are. I know that being in Guatemala right now is what God wants for my life, and quite honestly what I desire as well, but realize that even just talking to you urges me to serve others more. You lift me up, and I appreciate you. Even if we are not together, it feels like you are right here beside me. Never forget that I love you dearly. Can’t wait ‘till we see one another again.
How fun, sleepovers in the ghetto! With my bud who I met my first time here three years ago, we had a few nights of quality bonding. Since her family sells food to the neighborhood on the weekends, I was blessed to try to a handful of yummy dishes over the course of my stay. Yes, it was a diarrhea worthy experience, and thankfully I did not get sick. We spent much of our time of course talking about boys. Such an essential part of a good sleepover! At the request of the youngest daughter, we had an English class. We learned words for some fruits and vegetables. We practiced saying them aloud, writing them, and even drawing them. I enjoyed spending time with the family, but I know our lives our different. I only hope that what I have materially, I’ll be willing to sacrifice, to let go of, to be freed from. We do have common grounds in our friendship, and our dad’s are both letter carriers. How neat! Can’t wait for future times like these.
With a big bunch of roses and a special letter for each woman, we headed to prison. The letter confirmed the way God desires that we come to Him and asserted that God is here with us. Snacks, roses, and a copy of the letter were distributed to each of the girls as we began our discussion. Each of the girls said one thing about their roses with comments ranging from, it is beautiful to it’s kind of beat up (they weren’t by any means perfect). Then the women were compared to the roses, acknowledging their beauty, but also their thorns, the parts that have been withered and worn by the trials in their lives, and affirming that just as these roses need to be cared for in a special way, so do they. We split into groups to further discuss the letter, and connect passages in the Bible to different parts. When it spoke of God being here with us, we looked to Jeremiah 33:3. When it recounted of fear, we turned to Isaiah 41:10. In addressing unity, Philippians 2:2. For love, 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8… and that’s just to name a few. We grouped up again to discuss the verses and to pray. Tears erupted, and soon after the cell was filled with beautiful song, voices of prisoners so desperately calling out to a God who can truly save. Even in what seems like a hopeless defeat, there are women seeking the Lord fully and completely from a jail cell. That, my friend, is truly moving.
One of the areas that I am committed to this summer is the HIV home that is run by 15 nuns. The kids are wonderful, but on this day I was able to spend time with the cook. I spent the day in the kitchen cleaning, cooking, chopping, washing, and chatting. The cook, Betty, works 5 days a week all day long. On the weekends the nuns cover her shift. We had a lot of fun together, and I realized how much work it is to run the kitchen every day. Thanks to our Georgia group from The Gathering we were able to replenish their kitchen supplies with rice, sugar, crackers, eggs, and a mountain of fruits and vegetables from the market. Thanks y’all you are an amazing bunch!
What a beautiful afternoon we had, no rain and all sunshine! During the relief line where candy, toys, and bread were handed out to families, the team agreed to a challenge. The Challenge: give big ‘ole bear hugs to at least 15 people. They all succeeded with flying colors, and everyone who came who through the line received many heartwarming hugs, and smiles spread like wildfire. After the relief line, we furthered the joy with a quality game of “futbol” in the community center. Dodging poles and children, it was a miracle that nobody got hurt. To the athletes in FCA from Arkansas, thanks for all the fun!
In reflection of how we do trips at the university with Lifelines, an outdoor ministry, we took process learning to a whole different level. We took it all the way to prison! Women’s prison to be exact. Among some of the only visitors that these ladies have, we thought, why not make the day interesting? The craziness commenced with trust falls, shrieks, and laughter. Further challenging the girls, we set up a rope about 5 ft. up that the women had to get over without touching. If anyone touched the rope, the whole crew had to return to the other side. Creativity surfaced, and women were being hoisted, carried, and catapulted over. Luckily we had no serious injuries. The biggest feat for the first group was getting one of the heavyset girls over. Everyone started jumping up and down, screaming and cheering when she got to the other side. We even were scolded by one of the workers because we got to rowdy! With the next group of girls, instead of a rope, church benches were our obstacles. We also did two teams, and had a race to see who could get over the fastest.. without touching the benches of course! These girls were pros, so we added a spin to the activity. Some of the girls could not speak, some lost their arms or their legs, and others were blind. Even with the handicaps, everyone still made it over. After the commotion, we sat down together and brought up some points of discussion with the girls and asked questions. For example: What are some obstacles in your life? How was your team affected by people who were disabled? How were you able to help and encourage those who were disabled? What are some ways which you can bond together to support one another? It was alot of FUN!
I am so lucky to be here..
Here in Guatemala there is an orphanage run by nuns for kids with HIV. There are 53 kids there ranging in age months to into their teens. Most have been abandoned, and some have families who are not able to provide for them. The place runs solely on donations, and receives no government support. Medicine for the kids is very expensive, and there are money other needs as well. Despite the diagnosis for each of these kids, the orphanage is full of peace. The walls and floors of the building are mosaics constructed with broken pieces of materials from a factory. The kids are loving and beautiful!
When we visited with the group, the team was gracious in giving money to buy supplies for the orphanage. Thanks to Trinity Chapel, we got to go on a mini shopping spree at the grocery store. We bought supplies for basic needs -soaps for cleaning and bathing, toilet paper, beans, rice, sugar, diapers, juice, milk, cereal, etc. When we arrived, we presented the donations. The nun thanked us and told us that it was great that we had brought food because the kids had nothing to eat for breakfast that morning. Thanks to God, a little need was met. It strikes me that there are sweet children who go hungry, and it is amazing to see God’s faithfulness here.
Dear Trinity Chapel,
I really enjoyed the week you were here. It was great to see some familiar faces, and also see this experience impact others for the first time. I hope you each had a life changing trip, and I pray that God willing you come back to this place. Thank you for your generosity, and I praise you for the ways in which you loved on the people of Guatemala. Whether it be duck-duck-goose in the dump, painting in the prison, praying in the ghetto, or a game of soccer in the village, you shared your life with another, and there is true value in that. It was neat to see needs met, and be moved by stories that we heard. Always remember, it’s just 3 boxes of corn flakes and 7 packages of diapers. How cool is it that we had the opportunity to be faithful! May God continue to put Guatemala on your heart, and have a wonderful summer! Love you guys!
Hello All! I can’t believe God has brought my back to Guatemala. It is my fifth time here, and this summer I am volunteering with Hope Renewed International http://www.hoperenewedinternational.org/. Check out the website!
Here, it has already been an adventure. I arrived a couple of days before our first mission team for the summer, and we had some work to do before they got here. It was crunch time! We signed, furnished, and did some last minute preparations for our group. Thanks to God, it all came together with little time to spare before the group arrived.
I had an awesome week with the group, and more teams are coming in July and August. I get to help out with the groups from the States that come, but also be a part of the various ministries here in Guatemala. I have loved pouring into the lives of others, yet I feel it is my life that is filled by my time here. People are so gracious, compassionate, and giving. From gangster to orphans, widows to people living in poverty -they amaze me. I am moved by individuals who I have met.
Be sure to look for more stories about the ghetto, the dump, the orphanages, the prisons, and the work that God is doing here in Guatemala. Continue to pray for restoration and change.