I am back in Guatemala for the first time since February and there has been a constant buzz of activity since I arrived on Friday afternoon. Here’s what’s been going on over the past four days along with some of my thoughts and reflections:
I still feel like a kid who’s about to go to Disney World as a trip is approaching. The anticipation of seeing friends and catching up with our team here still gets to me every time.
- My arrival at the La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City was a little different this time. Instead of being greeted at the airport by Tita, I was met by a 6’8” “gringo” from Missouri. It was great to see Devin Chance from Life Of Hope (a parter of Tita’s ministry and Lemonade International) and Jake (a youth pastor from Devin’s church) and to spend time together that afternoon learning more about other ministries they are involved in here in the city.
- Within an hour or so we met up with Tita and some other friends and went to La Limonada. We were only there for a couple hours and in that short period of time this is what took place: we talked with a grandfather who told us his granddaughter just lost her baby because her husband had kicked her in the stomach, we talked with our friend Luis who scavenges through the trash in the ravine for things to sell in order to survive, we met with “S” – a woman who’s life story is so overwhelming there are no words to describe it – and finalized the plans for the renovations the Life Of Hope group would be doing on her house this week, and we visited the home of “C” – a young man about 19 years old who is so hungry for change in his life after years of unspeakable violence – and prayed with him for his heart to continue to change.
- Later in the day on Friday, I went with Devin and Jake to learn more about a food distribution program Life Of Hope supports at the Guatemala City dump. They support Cristo es el Camino Baptist church and the amazing work they do to love, support and feed the people who live in and work as scavengers in the city dump.
- On Saturday, we went back to La Limoanda to have lunch with Marcelina and Barulio – a beautiful elderly couple who made the most delicious homemade meal for us. Braulio is blind and Marcelina has permanent damage after injuring her hip years ago. Braulio says of their relationship, “she is my eyes and I am her cane”. Later in the day, I met with Donnie and Eva – our team members who host short-term groups who serve with us in La Limonada. They help provide a such a great experience for all the groups who visit and I’m so thankful for their friendship.
- It’s not every trip that I am able to get away from the organizational side of what’s going on here, but on Sunday my friend, Hubert, invited me to Todos 4rte – an arts festival here in Zone 4 of Guatemala City. It was a huge inspiration to see some amazing artwork from artists here in the country and to listen to the youth version of the Guatemalan National Symphony Orchestra (they were amazing!). So many ideas about increasing opportunities for students from La Limoanda to engage in the arts.
- Also, on Sunday night, a group from The Well, outside of Philadelphia, arrived to conduct a soccer camp for the children from the school and to serve in La Limonada. One of our board members, Todd Hiestand, is the lead pastor of the church and is part the group so it will be great to have him here the rest of the week as we meet with Tita and Shorty to pray and strategize about the future of our work with the people of La Limonada.
- Yesterday morning, we joined the Mi Casita Safe Home bimonthly staff meeting. I am always amazed and encouraged by the work the team at the home does to love, nurture, educate and provide counseling for the formerly abused, abandoned, and neglected children who call “Mi Casita” home. Then in the afternoon, Tita, Damaris and I had a mid-year budget meeting – looking over the past six months and planning for the remainder of the year.
The rest of the week will be filled with one-on-one meetings with team members, meetings with potential food distribution partners in the city, and a leadership team meeting with the key leaders of each of the programs here.
I would be grateful for your prayers for all that is happening this week, for the team who is serving here and mostly for the people of La Limonada. You’ll be hearing from me again soon as we unveil some exciting new things that are on the horizon.