I did not go on my trip alone. I would have in a heartbeat, but I talked one of my closest friends, Suzanne, into going along with me. We went through World Help, an organization that partners with Christian organizations already in place in many countries in order to better provide the needs (physical and spiritual) of those there.
On Monday, March 11, our moms dropped us off at RDU for our flight out. Delayed almost an hour getting out of Raleigh, we had to book it across the terminal in Atlanta to barely make our flight to Guatemala. The adventure had begun. Upon landing, we met some of our group, the others coming on later flights. All in all there were 31 of us in our group. At least seven states represented, ranging from college students, to a mom and her daughters, to cousins+2dads. I commented later in the week how amazing it was that God used so many different situations, reasons, and motivations to bring us all there for the same cause.
We arrived at Hope of Life in Zacapa, Guatemala Tuesday around lunch, and got to work soon after handing out food bags in a village called Modelo, a village that came as a result of displaced families after a hurricane. We heard so many amazing stories of groups, organizations, churches that had raised/donated money to provide church buildings, schools, wells, etc. I cannot even begin to describe how overwhelming at times God’s power and provision were. Hearing Carlos (founder of Hope of Life) tell of how the money for St. Luke’s Hospital was raised, there is no doubt we serve an amazing God.
*I am finding myself wanting to give a detailed list of everything that we did, the order we did it in, where we went, etc. It’s part of my personality, all the parts are important, to not spare any details. It comes in handy when writing stories/books, but not as much when talking to other people, and it can make a blog seem wordy, though I’m pretty sure all blogs are wordy, unless they only consist of pictures, then they are ‘picturey’. Okay, bad joke, but in trying to give the details, it would come across more as a news article and the emotions would be lost. I do not want to lose the emotions of this trip, not at all ever. I think I experienced the full-range of human emotion in the three and half days we were at Hope of Life.
Tuesday night I had the opportunity to meet my sponsored child, Greisi Yaneth. Greisi is pronounced the same as Gracie, which was my great-grandmother’s name. She & I both share July birthdays, and she wants to become a teacher, which I am proud to be. I will be honest and say that as amazing an experience as it was, it was still on the awkward side. It was my first night there, and my Spanish didn’t start rolling off my tongue until Friday, so communication was broken. But after praying for her for a year, I was able to hug her and look into her eyes and tell her I loved her.
I’ll take this time to plug in my awesome students. I love my job, even though it has it’s trying moments. Our theme before my departure was “Helping Others,” with a focus on helping parents, friends, and even people we didn’t know. They were excited to learn about Greisi and how Ms. Anna was helping her and was going to meet her. They made cards/pictures for her, which I was able to give to her, and have loved looking at this picture of me with her.
Wednesday, Carlos gave us a tour of everything at Hope of Life, a 3,000 acre campus/compound. Listening to him talk is something I could do all day, listening to what God has done, everything Carlos has done for the Kingdom. “First pray, Then act”. “Cats don’t fall from heaven”. Great stories to hear, but would never sound right if I tried to type them. But to hear how it all started with a single vision to help the elderly, and now it serves thousands of people, elderly, orphaned, hungry, needy, battered, abandoned, hurting.
In one crazy long sentence, our team in Guatemala had the privilege of distributing 600 pairs of Toms shoes, washing little feet for them, packing and delivering 100,000 servings of food for 800 families, working in the warehouse packaging hundreds of pounds of toiletries, painting the inside of the baby rescue center, holding orphan babies, throwing a pizza/piñata FIESTA for the children at the orphanage, ministering to the elderly, loving on the special needs children, rescuing six children who needed medical care & most importantly….Spreading the love of Christ because He loved us first.