We packed the bus with all our suitcases and started the several hour bus trip from Guatemala City to Hope of Life in Zacapa. No trip to HOL is complete without stopping at Pollo Campero ( the Guatemalan KFC) and a gas station that has marked halfway to HOL for us since we started coming to Guatemala in 2010! But the trip to the gas station was different this time because his shelves were mostly empty and he had few choices in sodas. We asked him about it and he told us he was closing his doors. Business had began to suffer as cattle trucks started traveling at night and they were the biggest portion of his business. He could no longer afford to stay open. We had the awesome opportunity to share with him how much we enjoyed stopping there each trip and how grateful we always have been for his hospitality and we blessed him and his family on there new journey. The next week when we return to the city his doors were closed.
After arriving at HOL and settling in and eating dinner, we went to the village for our youth service. The theme was “Dear younger me”. Several members of the group shared what they would tell their younger selves about God. It was powerful and the youth were listening closely! Some of the things that were shared were that God’s ways are always better than ours…Trust that always! Seek a relationship not a religion…He wants to know you and be known by you..Know who you are in Christ not who the world tells you need to be. Don’t put him on a shelf…He wants to be in every part of your life! Serving God is so much more fun than serving the flesh and the blessings are abundant! I am sure this is not exhaustive but it’s the best my memory can do! HaHa!
Then the teens sang 10,000 Reasons in English to surprise the group! They did an amazing job!! They worked so hard on this song and it was so hard for them but they did it! It was beautiful!
On Sunday, day three, we had a sweet time of group worship. We started learning 10,000 Reasons in Spanish to sing to the youth. Our group church time was a time of celebration and remembrance of Calvin’s life. We all missed him so much this week! Everyone missed having coffee made when they woke up Sunday morning! Calvin loved to serve and he loved to have coffee ready each morning for the team. Whitney Miller said it best on Thursday evening at “cena típica” (special dinner) when she said our group this year is “one man down”. He loved the Guatemala mission trip and this team.
Our team had worked with Hope of Life to surprise Chris and I with a beautiful photo of Calvin on a mountaintop in Guatemala. He was looking over the beautiful country that he loved so much! He was a man of great faith and he always served so humbly. He was so quiet until he wanted to tell you about Jesus! Calvin was one of the busiest people I know but he always made everyone feel like he had time for them….Time to pray, to care, to serve, to love! He loved like Jesus! He never wanted to miss those moments to make a difference in someone’s life…and he impacted so many lives! This picture would represent a special time him and Chris spent together and it would be his last trip to Guatemala. A few months later he heard his Heavenly Father and Savior say “well done, good and faithful servant!”
We missed him this week in Guatemala. We miss him every day but we are thankful for the legacy of love he left us all! He was an incredible example of how to serve the Lord humbly and sacrificially. He was blessed and we are blessed to call him “Padre”. Thank you so much team for this very special memorial!
After lunch we went to the village and packed Christmas sacks with new tennis shoes, socks, flip flops, school supplies, t-shirts, games, toys, etc. We played with kids, ate cucos, played soccer and visited with our Guatemalan families!
On Monday morning, we picked up 24 youth from our Guatemala church youth group! They had been preparing for a couple months to do VBS in Los Limones, Gualan and help our mission team build a house. We were so excited for them to experience the joy of unity of the spirit and coming together as a team for one purpose… Sharing the gospel of Jesus Chris and being his hands and feet!
They had decided on the Bible stories they wanted to share, crafts, games, songs, and dramas. The time had come and we were all so excited! We arrived at the village…at least we thought it was the village. Chris opened Bible school and had everyone laughing. We should have dressed him in a clown suit but the youth had already insisted that he had to be Goliath in their drama. He was the perfect Goliath. After Chris introduced all the group, William played the guitar and led us in worship and then Karla shared 1 Samual 17, the Bible story of David and Goliath! They acted out the drama and it was great! Karla shared with the children that we face giants all the time and they can look very different in our lives but God is always with us to help us overcome them! We did crafts with the children but there was really little space to play soccer so we told the kids to meet us after lunch to play at their field in a different area. Well during lunch we found out we were in the wrong village! So the awesome part is that the youth got to share the power we have when God is with us to overcome the giants in our life with two villages! We used the crafts from day two and left the plan for the next day to God. It was not how we planned….it was better than we planned!
While the story and drama team did the Bible story and craft with the second village, the games team went back to the other village to meet them to play soccer. We could not leave them at the field waiting for us and not return. It went perfectly and was an amazing day of ministry! We were all so moved by the youth group and watching them serve and love the children in both villages!
It was great to share with them how this was God’s plan for them all along….to share with two villages our need for God and how he is there to help us to overcome the “giants” in our lives. We explained that we are sure that there was someone that needed to see them give that message today in the other village and we believed God used them to plant a seed today and change a life! I pray they felt the excitement we all feel when God is using us in a special way!
On Tuesday we returned to the village and continued work on the house. We mixed concrete and put in the floor. Several of the youth helped us work on the house and the others did face-painting with the children. For Bible school, Byron shared the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors and the drama team acted out a drama. They ended Bible school with a rally. We weren’t sure what this was going to look like but it was so fun! They set up 8 stations and each team of four had to go through each station. After they finished a station, they would get a stamp on their arm and then they could go to the next. The first team to finish the course won! It was so fun and the games were so creative!
Wednesday was dedication day for the house and our final day of Bible school. The American group painted the house and the youth group made gospel bracelets with the children. They shared the gospel with the children, then they broke up into groups and made bracelets with the children explaining what each color represents. After the house was dedicated, Luis shared the Romans Road to Salvation and the youth did a music drama to “Liberame” (Set me free) by Casting Crowns. I have seen this drama many times but the spirit was moving like I have never felt before and all of us felt it! It was so powerful. Many were moved to tears and the children and parents were watching with eyes wide open! Pastor Mynor prayed and over 15 children came forward to accept Jesus as their savior. He asked the families and the pastors to lead these children in their walk of faith and for the children to continue to seek to know God through their local church! The youth were overjoyed to see how God could use them in such a powerful way! Please continue to pray for them. God has lit a fire in their hearts and the passion has been ignited to serve Him!
Thursday we spent the entire day in the village of Hope of Life. It was the first time since coming to Guatemala that we have served in another village so the kids were really missing the group. They were also super excited because they were getting their Christmas Hope Sacks and their new tennis shoes for school!
Every moment in the village with the children is special but this trip will always be very close to all our hearts! As a team we all felt very grateful to be a part of what God is doing in the lives of the youth. It was incredible to witness them making such an impact in these two villages and we are convinced that God is using this experience in their own lives. He certainly used it in all of ours. It seems like yesterday many of these youth were kids and they looked forward to playing on the playground with the group. But over the next year or two many will be graduating from high school. Some are already out of school with jobs. Some of these teenagers are sold out for Christ. But many struggle with figuring out which way to go in life and walk the fence with the world on one side and Jesus on the other. The road is hard and satan is working so hard for their souls. I pray that the fire in their hearts continues to burn for the things of God. That they saw His face this week in the faces of those they served and in each other’s. I pray that they see the narrow road as something a little more doable and not so impossible because they witnessed the power and community of God this week! I pray nothing compares to the joy they experienced while serving Him last week! I pray they discover that the relentless pursuit of Him and holiness is where the abundant life really is!
We ended a fantastic week with a day in Antigua! The entire team toured Antigua on four wheelers. We saw some of the most amazing views and ate some great food.
Thank you so much to our 2020 Mt Comfort Mission Team. You all are such a blessing to everyone you meet. Your light shines so bright for Jesus! Your joy is contagious, your hearts are so generous and your love is limitless! The relationships you have built with the village impacts their lives everyday. Chris and I are honored to serve with you! Thank you for serving with us! Love you guys!