Reflections & Lessons Learned in Guatemala

Below is a talk that I shared at my home church after getting back from Guatemala, in the summer of 2004. I found it the other day and it so well embodies my experience there and the valuable lessons that I learned that I wanted to post it. It is longer than most blog posts, but it is really significant to me. I was very glad to find it and read it again, and to have these reminders. I hope you enjoy:

Good morning.  The reason that I’m here this morning is I’ve just spent the most incredible 8 weeks on a mission trip in Guatemala and I want to share with you a piece of my experience.

It’s so hard to put something like this into words but I’ll try…  As background, I went on a one-week mission trip to Moscow, Russia over spring break this past March, and getting back I was feeling God calling me to do more – something more substantial than just a week.  So I prayed about it and within 2 weeks was signed up to go to Guatemala with a group of people I had never met.  I was nervous and so excited at the same time.

So, this morning I want to share a story with you all that kind of embodies much of my summer experience.  And it happened in just my second week there.  After a week of training in the capital, it was our first week going out into the little villages to do programs and evangelism.  We were separated into small groups of about 4 plus a missionary to go out to different villages for 4 days.  From the starting point, already a village in the middle of nowhere, we knew that one group was going to ride a pickup truck to their tiny village, another group was going to ride an hour and walk for about 30 minutes, and the farthest group was going to have to hike for something like 3 hours to get to their village!!

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One Summer in Guatemala

This is the 3rd in my series of posts going back and talking about how I developed my love of travel, mission trips, etc.

After my spring break mission trip to Moscow, I came home completely consumed in what was next. Within 2 weeks of my return, I found and signed up to spend that summer in Guatemala. Eight weeks of mission work – each week in a different town/village. You might say it was an epic summer for me. We did children’s programs, puppet shows, construction projects, homeless outreach, prayer visits to people in surrounding villages. We led worship & prayed in multiple languages at once (often English, Portuguese, Spanish, and whatever local Mayan dialect of the area). We lived life in a 3rd world country, often living with host families & learning so much from them. We rode in the back of countless pick-up trucks and “chicken buses”. We slept in some less than comfortable conditions, hiked for hours in long skirts & mud boots, sweated uncontrollably while trying to put on children’s programs. [I learned that you can totally do anything for a few days/week.] We ate crazy (& delicious) foods, took naps in hammocks, and learned how to make corn tortillas from scratch… Without a doubt it was the most amazing 8 weeks of my life! It is extremely hard to put this summer in to words, especially trying to keep it relatively short. Looking at my pictures right now I get all kinds of emotions running through me.

A children's program we put on in a village

So here are a few of the things I learned and experienced, in somewhat abbreviated form:

I played with the most beautiful children of God, at an orphanage in Huehuetenango. Continue reading