On Monday night I got home from a 10 day mission experience in Antigua, Guatemala. It’s hard to put into words the experiences and emotions felt while in Guatemala, so bear with me as I try and describe one of the most powerful experiences I’ve encountered.
One of the first excursions our group took when we got to the country was zip lining through (or more like over!) a coffee plantation. It was INCREDIBLE. Like I mean WOW. I was strangely less nervous than I thought I would be, and I think the fears totally dissolved after seeing my fellow team members having such a fun time. I was very fortunate to have my GoPro along (my new favorite gadget), so I got to record the experience, something I’ll look forward to having when I’m old and can’t remember what the experience was like. Zip lining also acted as one of our first team bonding activities, which in my book is pretty much the coolest way to get to know a group of people. The feeling while you’re flying through the air on a line that goes up to 75 kilometers is nearly indescribable, so I apologize for the following attempted description: it felt as if you floating above the Earth just for a moment to see everything around you fully and in its wholesome, natural state.
Our first three days, the team split into two separate building teams. During those three days, we built bright smurf-blue homes on the sides of mountains with cement and bricks and tin and wood. I’m going to be honest- it was the most physically exhausting task I’ve ever done in my entire life. It rained, the mountain was slippery and muddy, the concrete was difficult, there was a language barrier. But on the third day, after all our building was complete, we were able to dedicate the house to the family. And that was truly life changing. The family we built for had four holey, tin walls and a leaky tin roof for a house. The floor was dirt, there was no door, and the entire family of 5 slept on one queen-sized mattress. Since it’s Guatemala’s rainy season, the house constantly leaked water, soaking the bed and turning the dirt floors into mud. The children walked around without shoes. It was honestly heart-breaking, and after the first night of building my heart was heavy with the incredible load this family had to carry.
Due to extra funds raised, (praise God!) our team was able to buy one water filter for each house and one bunk bed for one of the houses. Our building team also got some shoes for the kids and some basic food items for the family to use in their new house. When we dedicated the house, every complaining thought or tired muscle didn’t matter. It just did not matter. This family received a home that they deserved– a house that didn’t leak, a house that had a locking window and locking door. Many tears were shed, and that was a great day. That night it rained, and we were able to sleep soundly knowing our family was dry and safe.
Throughout the rest of our time in Guatemala, we went to a malnutrition center, an orphanage, a homeless shelter, hosted a vegetable drive and hosted a clothing drive. Each experience was unique, and unfortunately I have too many stories to share, so I’ll save them for another day. It was so special to be able to serve alongside a group of young people that cared about the work they were doing. I felt inspired by my teammates each and every day, and it was an honor to share this experience with them.
Antigua has my heart. I can’t wait to share more stories from Guatemala with you.
Happy Saturday, friends!