Hurray! We’re here! We’ve experienced some delicious food and everyone is finally in bed after a little more than a 20 hour day for everyone in the group! It was a long day of traveling and taking in some of the sights and sounds of Guatemala City and Antigua. Our flights were smooth and we didn’t have any troubles at all with customs or security. We’re all enthralled by this nifty little hotel in Antigua, Guatemala where we are all staying this week. It’s got quite a lot of character and charm but it’s still incredibly welcoming, which is exactly what we’ve experienced so far even in our short time here in the country. With this being my first out of country trip, I really wasn’t sure what to expect – and honestly, I’m still not completely sure what the rest of the week will bring. Even though I’m not completely sure of what to expect, I do know that I am confident that the Holy Spirit will work in wonderful ways this week. I’m so looking forward to seeing our youth grow in their faith to reach out to our neighbors and to walk alongside their brothers and sisters in Christ. They’ve all done a wonderful job today through our travels and everyone still has a huge smile on their face despite being extremely exhausted. On our first day of our trip, we shared a letter that Nancy Shirley got from her daughter Sarah who participated on the Guatemala trip three years ago with St. John’s Lutheran church. It truly is a wonderful letter and it has really helped to lay out the kind of experience and the kind of perspective that we help our young people walk away from this trip with. We got Sarah’s permission to share that letter with you now, so here it is…
“Mom, I am thrilled for you to experience all of the beauty to Guatemala holds over the next week. In America we see the people of Guatemala as “poor “or “lesser ” because they live in an impoverished nation. We are wrong – very wrong. These people are more than we are. They are rich in love, rich in culture, and rich in God. They have a greater appreciation for life, love, safety, and basic human rights than we could ever comprehend. The people you will meet face more hardship in a day then we will face in it a lifetime. They deserve more. They deserve better. They deserve to be shown the love of God – and that is what you are going to do. Embrace their free spirit. Embrace their love. Embrace their faith. You can learn so much from them. God placed you on this journey. Not to judge or to pity, but to be let down this path. Let the people of Guatemala guide you.
This trip is more than an adventure or a mission. This trip is an opportunity to witness that in another part of the world, not so far away, that people do not have the privileges we have. Yet, they choose joy, faith, and compassion.
Have fun and experience with this world has to show you.
I love you, Sarah”
What a wonderful letter and sentiment! We hope and pray that we all have this kind of experience and insight! We encourage you to follow along on this blog throughout the week to see how God is working here on this trip!
*Apologies for this post not going live until this morning. We’re working out the kinks with the Wi-Fi here at the hotel. Thanks for your patience!