Guatemala Mission Presentations
August 18, 9:45am
Mission Campus Fellowship Hall
Shawnee Campus Worship Center
Come and find out how God worked through our mission team to develop stronger Christian bonds with the people of Guatemala.
A slideshow will also be shown during the offering at each service this weekend.
We looked into one another’s eyes, past the languages we could not understand, and we celebrated. We celebrated that hope is like a chain. When one person feels hope, that hope inspires hope in the heart of another. This hope is connected to a faith that whispers, “I am not forgotten by God. I am love-able. I am noticed.” This faith is inspired by the Spirit of God who directs our hearts and our minds to the gift of Jesus, the one who gives us hope, a hope that is rippling through the world.
This ripple of hope is what we saw in Guatemala this year. We saw it in our celebrations and in our work. We heard word of it spoken to us by the families Trinity has helped over the years. We heard, “Hope is like a chain connected together. It brings others along.”
A strong feeling of it was felt in Santa Catarina where Trinity sponsors a monthly food program for widows and their children. We’ve gathered year after year with these beautiful women. We handed out coloring books and crayons to their kids, and suckers like the ones John Barry hands out at the Mission campus. The children were so excited for such small things. So very happy and excited.
A visit with the women of Santa Catarina took us up the steep hillside where we took water filtration systems into homes and taught them how these new things worked. The women smiled with appreciation as I knelt on the dirt floor of a room lit only by sunlight filtered through worn out curtains. One woman we visited couldn’t make it to the celebration down the hill because she had not walked for many months. Something terrible happened to her in the mountains. Her heart was filled with terror and her body curled in upon itself. We prayed. Her room was silent as I prayed.
We descended the hillside of Santa Catarina with heavy hearts. Our hearts prayed that the Hope of Christ would ripple more strongly in such a place, in such homes, in the places where widows no longer walk.
Our hearts were uplifted by a celebration of hope in another Guatemalan community called Chuchipaca. It’s a 90-minute drive to Chuchipaca and this is a place where Trinity sponsors several women and their families in another monthly food ministry. It’s hard to explain the beauty of this celebration. We’re told it’s like a Christmas celebration where a special meal is made and gifts are exchanged. That’s just what happened!
The women and their families ran out to our van to meet us this year. The excitement was palpable! We walked together toward the celebration center where our guest table was set up. After a regional drink made from hibiscus, we cleared the table and exchanged gifts. This is where we bring all the shoes and sweaters we as Trinity collect together. This year, I saw young girls watch the table expectantly, eyeing pairs of shoes they wanted. When their family was called forward, these little girls would spring forward and race right to their hoped-for shoes! Oh, they fit! The pair they wanted fit! There was so much happiness.
We descended from the high altitude of Chuchipaca (7,000 feet up a mountain at 8,900 feet down to 5,300 feet) back to where we as Trinity are building a small house for Jorge, Mercedes, and their ten-year-old daughter, Diana. We worked the site in Panajachel a few hours each day, each of us finding work that matched our skills and capacity. Doug took to running a jackhammer, pulverizing concrete! Some of us dug trenches with Marcus and others of us tied small wires along re-bar that would give the home a solid foundation and structure.
Mercedes would bring us a treat mid-morning and mid-afternoon, really doting on us with gratitude. Jorge worked beside us, doing what work his body allowed. And Diana would always be close to her mother and sometimes speak a few words to us in the English she was learning at school.
My heart ached as we worked together. We knew that Jorge was fighting kidney disease and that we were making a special room in their house where he could do dialysis every five hours of every day of his life. But I didn’t realize the depths of what we as Trinity were called into, not until I was there.
Jorge told the two families we partner with in this mission that he knew his disease would end his life sooner than most men live. Though he did not know the hour or day of his last moments, this disease loomed over him. The thought of what would happen to his wife and daughter filled his heart. Jorge told us that this house gave him peace. He could die in peace and know that his daughter and his wife would have a home, a place to care for one another when he was no longer there.
My eyes welled with emotion on the last day together. All the families we as Trinity have built homes for came together for one big meal and celebration in a park. There were 55 individuals there, 55 people who have a home now because God has called our congregation into these relationships. Jorge, Mercedes, and Diana came forward, like the other families before them. Each family shared what their home has meant to them, and they said thank you. The mothers fought through emotion to speak their words. Our eyes welled.
But then Jorge and Mercedes and Diana came forward. Mercedes hid behind Diana, determined to not speak. She could not say words, she said. She could only pour out emotion. They invited me forward and wanted to give a gift to us. Diana, in her beautiful English, spoke one sentence, trying to say thank you. And then she wept and leaned into her mother’s arms, her mother who was right beside her. She could not speak the words. Her heart was so filled with emotion, knowing that her father would not live long, and that it would soon be just her mother and her. They will have a home. And God will dwell with them there.
We’re doing something good in this mission, this calling in Guatemala. I’m glad, along with our group, to represent you, the people of Trinity Lutheran Church. It is a great blessing to share hope, to ignite hope in the lives of those we meet. Let’s keep this going, wherever we are.
Special thanks to:
- Those who donated shoes, sweaters, medicines, suitcases, and coloring supplies. What great partners you are! Your love was well received!
- Trinity’s Missions Committee who recommends which projects to pursue locally and globally.
- The Trinity Lutheran Foundation which shows great generosity to the Guatemala mission year after year.
Peace to you,