Guatemala Reflections

Wow!  What a week.  6 of us from Hesston MB Church were in Guatemala from July 9-16.  We were on a "vision trip" to consider the possibility of future long term partnership with a ministry in Guatemala.   If interested on the process to choose Guatemala, we can talk later.  We spent about 3 days at each ministry location learning what they do and their vision for the future.  Our team has not met yet to come up with a proposal for our missions committee, but let me say that both ministry organizations are doing great things and would be a great choice for you personally or for your church.  Below are the links to both ministries.
Impact Ministries in Northern Guatemala http://www.impactministriesusa.org/

Eagle's Nest International in Western Guatemala http://www.eaglesnestint.org/index.php


Now, I would like to share my personal reflections from my time in Guatemala.
  • Joy-filled worship--Due to travel, we were not able to attend worship on Sunday while in Guatemala but I was again reminded (I had this same response 12 years ago while in Guatemala) of the passion and joy of the Guatemalan people in worship.  We attended a couple of schools where they had morning devotions and worship.  I was blown away by their passion for Jesus.  As Americans, we can learn a lot about worship from our Guatemalan brothers and sisters. 
  • Identity in Christ-Many of you know that I have just submitted a children's book to publishers on identity in Christ.  Our first morning in Guatemala, we attended a school and during their morning devotion, they shouted "we are blessed, prosperous, victorious!"  Their definition of prosperity is very different than how we would define it. In addition, one song kept repeating this line, "Dios me ama" which translated is God loves me.  Both of these along with conversations throughout our trip reinforced the need to teach people who God is and who we are in Christ.
  • Heart for orphans-At Eagle's Nest, we had time each day to spend with the children from the orphanage.  It was so fun to play with the kids and see their huge smiles.  Often we think about orphans as sad and downcast, but that is not true of these children.  They are shown great love and care and as followers of Christ we have a great opportunity to care for widows and orphans in our country as well as throughout the world.
  • Discipleship-At Hesston MB, our mission to make disciples who make disciples.  We talk a lot about what this looks like.  In Guatemala, both Impact and Eagle's Nest are doing this well.  What do I mean?  Both ministries have trained and equipped the Guatemalan people to lead in their organizations.  Both of these organizations have Canadians or Americans in leadership but the majority of their staff is Guatemalan.  I was amazed at the maturity of principals from the schools in Chamchay, Puruhla, and more.  It was great to see Guatemalan teachers leading the devotions and teaching classes at Eagle's Nest as well as staff in the kitchen and workers keeping the facilities clean and working.
  • Testimonies-During one home visit, I was greatly encouraged by a grandmother.  The home was small and had a dirt floor.  She was quick to make sure all of her guests had a place to sit.  As she talked (I don't speak Spanish), I could sense her passion and love for Jesus.  She gave a powerful testimony of God's faithfulness, healing, and provision for her family.  Her husband had to move out to find work to provide for his family.  Her daughter had left one of her children with the grandmother to care for her.  However, this sister in the faith continued to praise Jesus despite circumstances and shared several examples how God was working around her.
  • Need for Pure Gospel-What is the gospel? It is good news about what Jesus has done! In Guatemala, you can see the effects of what happens when you blend Mayan spirituality, Catholic beliefs and Christianity.  For the record, I am not saying Catholics are not Christians. What matters is what they believe about Jesus.  However, what we witnessed in Tactic was a blending of all three.  People came to sacrifice to the corn god or sun god prior to lighting a candle for a loved one as they looked upon an image of Jesus on the cross.  As believers, we must keep the gospel central in all we do and say. It is about Jesus!  Don't add to it or take anything away.  I can see America headed down this path of blending faiths in our future which is why we must be clear about who Jesus is and what He did and what He said.
  • Hospitality-The people of Guatemala are great at hospitality.  Wherever we went (schools, homes, market, etc.) we were welcomed and shown care and love.  I remembered this from 12 years ago, but it was still evident.  Guatemalans care about people more than projects.  They value relationships more than being on time.  Both organizations had been praying for our team prior to our arrival.  In our culture of busyness and efficiency, we could learn a lot from our brothers and sisters in Guatemala.
I am sure I will have more reflections as time goes by but I wanted to share a few thoughts while it is fresh in my mind.

I am thankful for Impact Ministries and Eagle's Nest International and all the people we met in Guatemala.  Blessings on all of them!

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