I have never been to Guatemala before. To be honest, I had to google it to even know where it was on a map. But now, here I am in the heart of Guatemala City spending time with orphans and working in the community. God is doing some amazing things through this missions group and I wanted to give a quick run down of the first few days.
We flew into Guatemala late Friday night, so it was a quick intro to our guides Pablo and David, then a late authentic Guatamala dinner….. Dominos. We made it to Dorie’s Promise orphanage, which is run by Forever Changed International, unpacked from the bus and headed to bed.
That morning was the first time we got to spend time with the 40 kids currently living at Dorie’s and let me tell you, you don’t know unconditional love until you sit with these kids and they attach to you and only want to be held and loved on. It was extremely emotional and heart warming. These kids don’t care if you are black, white, yellow, brown, purple, indigo, or red. They do it see race. They see love. They see people who care about them and want to love on them. The thing is, love has its own language. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t understand what they were saying, because a big hug and smile transcends all language barriers. We were able to spend most of Saturday just loving on all the boys and girls. We took them to a “park” which was a street with less traffic and played soccer (which I got schooled at by Luis, a 8 year old) taught them how to play baseball, threw footballs and just had fun.
Church day! These kids have a passion for God that is hard to describe in words. They have so little, might have come from abusive homes, or be at Dorie’s because their parents are in jail, yet they have a peace and joy about them that is awe inspiring. We loaded 40 kids and 20+ adults into our small bus and headed out. (Each adult had at least 2 kids on their lap. The church is located about 30 mins from their home at a local school. The kids went to their service while the adults went to ours. The pastor was passionate and moving. Pablo our guide helped translate, but the pastor was well versed in English as well. It was a great service and preached a powerful message that I needed to hear. After church we headed back to Dorie’s to change and take the kids to their weekly outing. Flying squirrel trampoline park. Your donations make trips like this possible for the kids. So we loaded all 60+ people on our little bus and headed out. I of course couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be one of the big kids and join them out there getting all sweaty and having an amazing time. Again, the language barrier didn’t matter. We played tag, dodge ball, jumped over walls, ran, and just had a blast with these kids. I heard it said “you don’t pick the kids, the kids pick you”, and that is so true. Monica, who I am with in the above picture is my new BFF. 2 hours at the trampoline park and this old man was worn out and ready for a nap. 🙂 Now that the fun part was out of the way, Monday started our work in the community.
We started Monday with a tour of the national cemetery where everyone is buried. But there’s a time limit for how long you can be buried there if you are not one of the 5% in Guatemala. Yep, you read that right. Time limit. 7 years. And if you can’t afford the “rent” then that could be 3 years or less. So being poor can follow someone even to the grave. They have mass cremations for when someone can’t pay or the 7 years are up so they can make room for more people to be buried. Sometimes, it’s not even creamation, but simply dumped into the city dump, which sits on the back side of the cemetery.Its hard to see, but there are roughly 1000 people scavenging in the dump as a way of life. When dump trucks come in, people will put their hands on the truck to “claim” its contents. Usually 20 people per truck. These people will work 12 hours a day in hopes of making the equivalent of $5 USD. They find recyclable materials that they can resale afterwards. The food they find might also be the only meal of the day for them.
We then went to Pastor Mercedes church where she started a feeding center for the children of the community, which sits maybe 1/2 mile from the city dump. The things she is doing is amazing and this lunch time meal is the only meal a lot of these kids will even get. Through your prayers, love, and donations, we were able to supply Pastor’s Mercedes feeding center with 2 weeks worth of food for these kids. I wish you could have seen her and heard her speak about her passion for these kids and how God has worked in their lives. I was given the opportunity to pray over her and it is by far the most emotional prayer I have ever given and it was an honor to do it.
After the feeding center, we headed into the community to deliver food bags to 6 families that had the most need. These food bags were also bought with your generous donations. The elder leaders of the communities let us know who’s most in need at the time. These food bags supply almost a month worth of food for the equivalent of $20 USD. Yep, $20 for a month of food. What I have seen in magazines and on tv, can not prepare you for walking into a 8X8 at the most and is sleeping 6 people. But the peace these people have is unbelievable. Some are literally living one day at a time. Many not knowing if they will eat that day or not. Their faith in God is unwavering and is a gut punch for me and my way of life. I’ve never gone without food due to money. I’ve never been in a house where a makeshift grill is your kitchen and sits directly across from the bathroom in full view. But, they are richer than I might ever be. So much has been packed in just 3 days, and we still have 4 more to go. I have already made a commitment to come back next year and be the hands and feet of God again in this community, and the team has committed to coming back with more people and they largest fund raising amount that Dorie’s has ever had. To all that supported this trip via prayers or financially, I can’t think you enough. We are still here for a few more days, so if you’d still like to donate, here is the Link.
I would continue to ask for prayers for our remaining time here and for all of Guatemala.