I think about those ten days all the time. About the people we met and the message of Jesus we were able to share. Going to Guatemala was my first out-of-the-country mission trip and I know it won’t be my last. Coming back, I was changed in a way that didn’t happen with the other mission trips I’ve been on. Guatemala messed me up and opened my eyes to things I can no longer ignore. To talk to people and find out they’ve never heard of Jesus? It breaks my heart. I jotted down my thoughts every night of that trip to keep those moments alive in my mind. I didn’t want time to erode the emotions I felt or dim the power of God we experienced.
Prior to the trip we had been praying – not knowing the church we stayed with for part of the trip was praying too. We had the opportunity to meet with some of these people. They prayed over us the night before we were to begin our outreaches. They were so grateful for us to be there. It was so humbling to be a part of something bigger than yourself. As we practiced the dramas in preparation for the outreaches, I had the distinct feeling of this is so much bigger than us. We began something that will continue to grow and produce fruit long beyond those ten days.
I know all of us who went had a different moment that stands out to them – when God showed up. Mine was a day that my group was talking with some middle school girls. Girls – who I don’t know their names – but will never forget. The four of us listened to these girls tell us about what they were going through and my…heart…broke. Each of us, through our translator, shared with these young girls and I barely had started talking before I burst into tears. I told them what they saw Jesus do in the skit, He did for them. That nothing they do can make God love them less. That they’re beautiful. All of us were crying. The four of us each opened our arms and a girl immediately wrapped her arms around each of us. I held the girl in my arms, crying with her but also praying. I didn’t have to know the language to pray for the hurting girl in my arms. I don’t know how long we stayed that way but eventually the tears subsided. I went to each of them, telling them “Dios te ama” (God loves you). I truly felt we were able to be God’s hands that day, loving those girls with His love. I left a piece of my heart in Guatemala. And now I’m figuring out how to let those ten days bleed over into the everydayness. I don’t want what happened in Guatemala to stay in Guatemala. I think the simplest way to achieve that is by loving people. To continue to be God’s hands. We can be a witness not just with our words but also with our actions. And looking back, I’m so proud of the team I went with. All of us gave 100%, playing soccer in an open marketplace with some kids and basketball at one of the schools we visited. We played with children at an orphanage. We did what was asked of us…and showed God’s love through every act.