guatemala redux (part 4)

This week has been a hard one. So, my heart is looking for some reminders of what it felt like to be in Guatemala. Mike actually told me he missed my Guatemala face. I am pretty sure I got some sun? I definitely didn’t look Guatemalan, though. But really, I looked healthy and happy and not exhausted (like I do). I miss that place and that feeling of just … peace. Life just isn’t a rush there. I’m sure for many of our friends that move their lives to Guat the wait for nearly everything, e.g. car insurance, can send one into hysterics, but honestly, what’s the rush? Just like mornings on the roof, breakfast arrival at 8 and frozen mango cups you can drill at with a plastic spoon for an eternity if you’d like (still such a great idea, Anita!), the pace is just less frantic than here in the States.

Wednesday started off with our group splitting into two again so the half of us that didn’t participate in 4WD (Four-Wheel Drive) the day prior could go and the others could stay back with the H4H family.

I was really excited when Mike and I were paired with Gerardo and Manuel. Recall we had toured San Antonio with G$, and I’d really wanted to know Manuel … a seemingly quiet and hard-working man. Oh and also? Date day with my man! Sorry, Mike. I can’t help it.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal from the morning:

We loaded into the van and stopped at the bodega to gather supplies for our visits. En route to the first stop, I asked G to help talk to Manuel (as he only spoke Spanish). He has a 21- and 23-year-old son and lost his daughter (who would now be 22) at 12 years of age. He shared that’s when he fully committed his life to Christ. More about Manuel later.

The first home we stopped at reminded me of our prior visit to Guatemala … when we arrived in the communities near the dump. The floor was cement and very dirty. There were three kiddos on the bed. Mom was in the bath with the young lady with autism we were coming to visit. When she came out, she latched on to Mike immediately and then hugged me as well. At each stop, Manuel took time to photograph the child they were serving, have mom (or dad) sign for what’s being delivered and they end in prayer. This family had been friends who had moved from the San Antonio area, though, so there was a special warmth there. And I wanted to take the 13-year-old girl home. She was so grown-up and I wanted her to have the chance to be the sweet little girl she deserves to be. But, I guess, that’s what she knows.

Our second stop was likely my very favorite moments of the entire trip. I lie. They all are. But truthfully, this was it. We were in a new city and Manuel backed the van up a very steep hill. We parked at the gate and met three kids inside. Two played with toys and Cindy, a teen, came towards us with a wide smile on her face. She has cerebral palsy and some emotional challenges. She walks with braces but I didn’t notice her braces so much as the holes she’d worn in both sides of her scraggly Converse. Her toes were dragging along the dirt surface I’m sure she covered multiple times each day. I couldn’t really think about anything else so I asked big G if I could give her my flip-flops. He said that probably wouldn’t work as she’d need something more stable with her condition. I recalled that I’d packed some tennis shoes that morning knowing we’d have a likely crazy time of bible school later that afternoon. I hesitated for just a second before running out to the van to grab them. Cindy tried them on. Manuel teased because they were slightly big that adding some rocks may help. Cindy laughed because Manuel is actually a pretty funny guy and I held back tears thinking how the Lord had brought me to this very place at this very time to give away some shoes. It was a simple gesture and I honestly struggled to talk about it after the fact because this wasn’t about bragging that I gave away some Merrell’s (that’s what made my heart stop for a second, honestly. i’d never had such nice tennis shoes!). I was just really thankful I had the opportunity to do so. And Mike insisted on a photo. I’ve never loved a photo that included me in it much more than this one.

We had two other stops that day; a family with a young man suffering from CP and a single mom caring for her two daughters also dealing with CP. She also had a son and two puppies. I don’t even know how. She just does.

We headed back to H4H for lunch and got to see our friends with some of the kids. It was precious to see them loving on the littles.

Our next stop was one of two bible schools we would be blessed to lead over the next two days. This one was at Paso y Paso (Step by Step), an after school program for area children. Sonia, the coordinator, shared their vision for the ministry and that they’d begun in a home but quickly outgrew it. Praise! They can have 75 kids on any given day. This day there were likely 55ish. They all are so well-behaved, too. 50 gold stars for the two women managing the show. They are rockstars in my book. The kids began by singing us two sings, blessing us with a prayer and giving us a card of thanks. There were few dry eyes.

We started with our story/skit and it went amazingly well. Gerardo translated while Jen narrated. Mike and Dennis legit have a shot at acting. I was thoroughly impressed as were the 55-ish kids. See? Language barriers ain’t no thang. We split the kids into three groups for the story application, craft and games. I wasn’t entirely sure where I should be so I just felt like the Lord said it was fine to take some photos. So I did. You’ve been warned.

Of all the bible schools I’ve been a part of, this was one of my favorites.

We had dinner with the Beyer family again, but this time we were joined by their daughter Alyssa and her ‘friend’, Luis. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to put them in the hot seat because they’re so adorable and young and it took the pressure off from Mike and I! We also had the gift of Michael and Kelly Gross’ time that night. After our amazing lasagna dinner, Michael and Kelly shared about how the Lord brought the two of them to a place of preparedness for Guatemala separately, and then, together.

I’d known that Kelly had two older daughters based on our earlier chat, but what I hadn’t known is that both girls had come from previous marriages; one from Kelly and one from Michael. I appreciated that for the first time, Mike and I could relate to a couple’s story here. Just proof of how the Lord works.

Michael and Kelly’s story was just so about what the Lord does. They met randomly at a daycare and Michael was super nervous to talk to Kelly. She reluctantly gave him her number which led to a date a friend joined her on which led to a marriage seven months later. They have one child together, Madison, and an adopted Guatemalan son, Joshua.

Throughout the adoption process as well as this most recent move, Kelly waited for the Lord to ready Michael’s heart so she knew he wasn’t doing it just for her. They spoke about how this was the hardest thing they’ve ever done and the devil constantly tried to put up roadblocks. Michael, though, was at that point of resolution that this was the right thing so just about six months ago now, they made the move. They gave up nearly everything to come to Guatemala. But they did it together. And I heart them both deeply for listening to and heeding the call. And also for showing how God works it all for the good.

We ended the day as a group of people wiped out from all the activity. But, we were all at the same time so ready to embrace Thursday. The Gross’ showed us how you just do what the Lord asks so with our hearts prepared, we said, ‘here we are. send us.’

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