After a busy and adventuresome Monday, we boarded the busses for home. None of us were really ready to leave, but knowing we would return in the morning kept the pep in our step. The trip home was filled with jubilant renditions of everything from B-I-N-G-O to Amazing Grace. Just when we thought our day was complete, we discovered more to love about this beautiful county. Off the beaten path, up a scenic drive, nestled among the trees, stands a huge cross. Beyond the cross is a panoramic view of the city huddled against a silent volcano. We posed for a team picture and spent some time trying not to photo bomb everyone else trying to capture the breath-taking scenery for posterity.
One never knows what to expect food-wise on a mission trip, but everything has been fabulous. Breakfast and dinner are served via buffet at the hotel with lunch at the center. There is an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, which for me personally is a big plus!! Meals are a great time to mingle with the other team members. With sixty of us here, there is always someone new to chat with. Much of the team is from Florida, but there are a few Texans too. It’s fun to hear the stories of what brought this particular team together. There are a quite a few families on the team, and all of the kids/teens help keep the group lively.
During the day at the center, the team is rather spread out, so after dinner we gather to share and reflect on our experiences. It is encouraging to hear others share how much better many of the children are now compared to their last trip. One person shared about a child who had arrived this summer and was very ill. Yesterday, when she walked down the hall, he recognized her immediately, ran towards her, threw himself into her arms and exclaimed, “You came back!” What we are doing here makes a difference! We may never know the how vast the impact, but it is happening, nonetheless.
An hour before breakfast each morning, all the adventurous souls meet in the lobby for a walk around the city. I am happy to sacrifice sleep for the opportunity to explore the city, to witness it come to life. The architecture is stunning; I have taken some of my best photos during the morning walks. Each day we visit some place new; yesterday it was an elegant hotel hidden behind a plain wall. Inside the wall was a magnificent Guatemalan wedding destination complete with fountains, ancient ruins and crypts. Today we entered a silent chapel, no speaking permitted, where the city residents come daily to pray. Our tour ended with a stop at the panaderia (bakery) to sample the local pastries.
After only a day, the center feels comfortable, like we belong. Upon our arrival this morning, everyone quickly dispersed to their assigned areas and jumped right in. In the Canary Room that means bathing babies, dressing them for the day and feeding them breakfast. It’s been a few years since I had to bathe a baby, but the pint-sized sweetheart I got to bathe just smiled and sat patiently. There are several teens working in the baby room and I love watching them interact with the little ones. I expect that when they return home and share their tales of Guatemala, their friends will be encouraged and want to serve on mission as well.
We are called to be salt and light and that is exactly what we are doing here in Guatemala, living out the gospel in a very real and tangible way. Some may view it as a sacrifice, but to most of us here, it’s just what we do, servant-hood is a way of life and we love doing it.