On the Road to Guatemala

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When you go on an overseas mission trip you ask God for more than provision and protection. You ask him to do two additional things: To go before you and to reveal to you a piece of his will for your life. We hope to be changed and God does not disappoint.  So it was that thirteen students and four adults went to Guatemala City to learn what God is doing in the largest urban area in Central America where poverty, violence and malnutrition have threatened to rob children of their God given identity in Christ.  We partnered with AMG Mission  (Advancing the Ministries of the Gospel) to serve the nationals and children in just two of the 28 schools that the ministry operates across the country.

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Each day began early after breakfast with a devotion from Philippians lead by a dynamic AMG worker who assists with short term mission teams. Anointed as a mentor and exhorter, Ken Ivins made a lasting impression on all the students and adults as well. After devotions, we headed out to the ministry location for the day, driving through the labyrinthine and overcrowded streets of the city where driving felt like a blood sport.

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Arriving at the school we nervously broke into groups for a variety of classrooms, from pre-school age to junior high, while those with less Spanish than others wondered how we could be useful to these precious children and their hardworking teachers. We needn’t have worried, since the universal language of Christ’s love was easily transmitted across the two cultures and languages. Mrs. Morris and her Spanish 3 & 4 students did a lot of translating while the rest of us made due with a limited Spanish vocabulary and a lot of smiles and hugs. “Sentarse” (sit down!) was our most frequently used word with these energetic and delightful children. Our tasks were simple ones: play with the kids, help them with their lessons and love on them every chance we could. A couple of students also tried their hand at a welding project that Mr. Halbach was working on with an AMG staffer and a national employee with the mission.

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Mrs. Halbach, our ace in Children’s ministry, led a lesson teaching the “Wordless Book” to the children and leaving them each with a bracelet that tells the story of Christ’s death and resurrection reconciling a sinful people to himself, which they could then take home and share with their families. It was a huge hit!

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The week was full of memorable moments. Highlights include: a wonderful outdoor  youth group meeting with rousing worship music and raucous games and laughter at the home of Phil and Jen Wilson, AMG missionaries from NH; a high school soccer game; a sampling of local food in a wonderful restaurant; and a special trip to the mountains where we drove through small towns where nationals don the traditional Mayan costumes of their ancestors. That trip wound up at the Atitlan Nature Reserve where we all stepped way outside our comfort zones to make a short climb to the zip lines at 8900 ft. that lie over a ravine. Experienced or not, ready or not, we all harnessed up and took the leap! It was exhilarating to say the least.

Our time in Guatemala flew by as we exchanged gifts and tearfully said goodbye to our new friends. Unbeknown to us, our adventure had another chapter as we flew into Miami only to learn that our connecting flight was delayed and we would  be spending the night in the airport!  Sleep was difficult to come by, but Sunday morning we flew to Chicago and then home to Boston, weary but very grateful to be home.

We are grateful to all our families, friends and sponsors for supporting us in prayer on a great adventure to Guatemala. We cherish the memories and friendships made and look forward to how God will use our lessons learned. Gloria Dios!

Written by Linda Haskins, Trip Chaperon and former PCA Director of Guidance & Counselling