July 17, 2019
Peace to you from Guatemala.
Trinity’s 2019 mission group is doing well in Guatemala. We stay each night in Mario’s Rooms and so far have watched lightning flash above ancient volcanoes. There are great flashes but rarely do we hear thunder. I don’t know why.
Our mission works hand in hand with Joe and Cindy Betsill, Carlos Locon and Patricia Buch. It’s their relationships here that provide us with connection. We are happy partners in what they see and sense and we’re grateful for their presence here. The Lord has woven together a great community of faith with these relationships. You and I are a part of this.
Each day carries a different part of our shared mission with you. Sunday was our travel day. On Monday, we traveled to our newest house building site and helped where we saw opportunity. I tied some wire. Others moved some blocks for the walls. Others measured rods for part of the construction later. Others dug deep into the Mayan earth and made way for footers for the walls. There’s something for everyone and all skill levels (or lack of skill, but with a happy smile). Eventually this will turn into a small house that will withstand earthquakes if one ever happened.
The house is for Jorge (“hor-hey”), Mercedes, and their daughter, Diana, who is a year younger than my son Jude. My spirit cannot shake the weight of their story and I wish I knew the language so I could listen to Jorge directly.
Jorge has kidney failure. He’s a young 30-something and needs to do dialysis every five hours every day. This makes a normal work life impossible here. Mercedes has had various jobs but all in all there’s just not enough.
I heard a retelling of Jorge’s story. He knows his disease will end his life early. He said that having this small home will bring him peace. When he dies not long from now, he knows his wife and daughter will have a place to be, a place… A home… Though without him, it will be a place where they will continue.
I could not shake this story. It filled my soul and the weight of it intensified as he and I talked with Diana, their daughter helping me plod along with my thin Spanish. This house, I saw later, was not for him, but for his daughter and wife when he would no longer be there.
In that sacred spot, our work will turn into a house. A house that we as representatives of you, Trinity, decided to also have a “clean room” where Jorge can do his dialysis process with less risk. Maybe this will give him and his daughter more time to share stories and laugh. Maybe it will give Mercedes and him more days look into one another’s eyes with silent love.
Another emotion filled our souls when we visited with Patricia Joj (pronounced something like “kohck,” one syllable). As representatives of Trinity, we started work on her house last year. Her face was downtrodden then, but this year she was filled with a rich joy and a peace that you could hear in her words. It was good to see her again and see her home completed.
Patricia blessed us with a blessing upon you, the people of Trinity, saying, “May God bless you and your families and may God keep you strong as you and your church help more people in this world, people like me.”
Wednesday (today, as being written in the morning), our group will travel to Santa Catarina where we as Trinity support and fund a food program for widows. We’ll share a light, celebratory meal together and speak blessings to one another and lift prayers up into the heavens. This was a sacred moment last year and we anticipate it being so again. The way these women pray with you and for you is enchanting and my heart floods with peace at the sound and cadence of their words. To me, it sounds like a gentle song the angels once sang side by side with humanity and somehow these women have held on to how it all sounds.
Thursday will take us to Chuchipaca where we will share a special day with the women and families of that community. They, too, are recipients of a Trinity food program which provides nutrition for their children and lightens the financial worry a great deal, which allows their children to pursue more education (instead of having to work to help provide for the family).
Then on Friday we will experience a new part of this mission week. We’ve never done it like this. We’ve invited all the families for whom we built houses in the past and we’re hosting a meal. We’ll see if we can all be gathered in a park and we’ll see how many stories we can share and receive between us. I, Pastor Ben, feel a little nervous. I want to remember all the names of those we’ve known. To remember a name is a sacred gesture.
We, the team from our Trinity community, look forward to returning home to you and sharing the heart of these stories.
Peace to you and your homes.