Guatemala Mission Thoughts and Journals Over the Years…
All for the Greater Glory of God!
This mission trip was very heart warming because I was given the opportunity to see how we are changing the lives of these people. On the last day of the mission we were visited by members of the first village we worked in, Santa Cruz Xobalam. The villagers walked an hour and a half to see us at our mission base. One of the kids I played with, Edgar, walked with his family to come tell me hi because he heard I was in town. Through visiting with them the family told us because of the water cisterns we installed they were able to start their own used boot business. The family has more time during the day to manage a business now because they don’t have to use 6 hours of their day to walk down to the river and collect water. Also, when Edgar's mom realized I was Tori she told me that Edgar would ask her all the time, "when is my friend, Tori, coming back to visit us?". It brought tears to my eyes to see how much of an impact that we, as missionaries, have on these individuals. So much of an impact that they will hopefully remember us for the rest of their lives.
For all of our worldly problems and daily struggles here at home, the people of Guatemala taught me happiness in the simplest and most true form- with God, alone. By our standards, these people have nothing. No lights, electronics, cars, toys, etc. But what they do have is complete faith and trust in God and their fellow man. They welcomed us with open arms the very moment we arrived, giving us all they had. They stood alongside us as we worked to make their homes more efficient, bringing light and clean water to their everyday lives. We may have improved their living conditions, but what they gave to us was so much more. They showed us trust & kindness despite our differences, they showed us faith that rises above any comfort measures, they showed us hope that God has a certain plan for all of us. We just have to stop, listen, and trust. My prayer is that we all are reminded and moved to action like our Guatemalan friends have shown us.
The aid that is given from the American missionaries to the people here in Guatemala is astonishing. But what is even more astonishing is how the Guats who are being helped welcome the missionaries every day. They understand that in order to get that much aid —the missionaries had to plan and prepare all year long and they know as well that it is by the will of God that it is all happening. It astounded me the kindness and generosity from both missionaries and the people receiving aid, which led me to the conclusion that it could only be by God’s hand.
I truly believe it is the closest experience of heaven on earth I’ve had because you are surrounded by people with open hearts, who are doing the work of God, each one of them trying to follow God’s plan. Today I tried picturing myself in heaven, there He was, and all the things I love as well, but I wasn’t alone, I was surrounded by my family including my American missionary family.
Done it, loved it, doing it again!
On our last day in the village as we began to head back toward our mission base, we were stopped in the streets of Cahabon because of a funeral procession. What stood out about this procession was at the front there was a man carrying a small wooden coffin on top of his left shoulder. I realized that there was a child inside that coffin. Watching the sorrowful procession of people displayed the reality of death there in this remote part of Guatemala. It struck the depths of my heart and hit me like a ton of bricks with one question, “What if one of our little brothers or sisters from the village we just left was carried in a procession like this one in the coming year?” I began to understand that this reality was very possible. My conclusion was that those people in the funeral procession, that family who was in so much pain, was my family. I began to realize that all human beings are connected in the world, and we all share the same Creator. Thus, making us all part of the same family. The inhabitants of this world are our brothers and sisters whether we realize it or not.
This is my second mission trip. It is the first time I get to go back to the place where I lived so many life changing experiences. The first time I get to go back and realize how much it has influenced my life. More importantly, it is the first time I get to go back to see how much our mission changed the lives of the people that we hoped to help. The mission trip has been a wonderful blessing that has given me the joy to serve God and rewarded me with unconditional friendships, bonds, and amazing memories with the missionaries and I am and will be forever thankful for that.
This year I appreciate even more the Mission being based on the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 25:40. It was gratifying to complete our projects with the community center in Estancia Grande. Being able to give the community a way of raising funds to support themselves and their schools, and give them a consistent supply of 1,200 gallons of water through the cisterns we installed is a blessing. What touched me most this year was our two-day visit at the girls home in Jalapa. While the girls there seemed happy and are loved by the Nuns who manage the home, I couldn’t help but feel sad that their parents did not want or were unable to care for them. And yet, every hug and smile from them was given with such pure love that you knew they had God in their lives. It was hard to leave with them asking, “when are you coming back?”. Our visit to the Convent and Mass there was so up lifting. To know that these nuns are giving their lives to God, praying for the world and us gives me great hope. The feeling of love and companionship that builds between everyone throughout the week is well; words cannot describe how wonderful.
One of the most memorable moments for me on the mission was when we were in the middle of playing soccer and the little kids stopped, ran to the water tank and began to drink from it. This is when I realized that there are bigger problems that people have in the world than just being hot! We have the luxury of air conditioning, water, and electricity but they don’t have any of that yet. I’ve never been so thankful for the things I have that are truly just THINGS. The people of this village thought we were there to help them when truly they were the ones helping and inspiring us to be better Christians and followers of Jesus. This was a life changing experience and I would do it all over again!
From Matthieu J...
What the mission means to me? A vision, seeing the need of others beyond our great excess and acting on it. Teamwork, overwhelming challenges that can be overcome when people of a same goal gather and say yes to do something about it. Faith, answering a call to care for and love the poor, all in the name of God and for the sake of hope in humanity. Gratitude, for the blessings of time talent and treasure gathered together for service, instead of simply furthering one’s own wealth in vanity. Water, not only a necessity but a human right worth more than it's weight in gold, to be accessible, life giving. Water, how we waste it, if it were inaccessible to us, how shameful we could be. Rain, to us ruins a long weekend, to our friends in Guatemala, a gift, used sparingly. Let us all remember the poor not only in Guatemala, but also in the streets of our own cities and of the world, and remember to pick up our cross and carry it to where we are called.