Our team of five, Hannah, Cynthia, Yemi, Carol and Dan set off on our two week mission trip to Guatemala on the 1st July 2019. The name Guatemala is roughly translated to mean place of ‘lovely trees’, the scenery as we flew in did not disappoint. The views were stunning, wide deep valleys full of lush vegetation, surrounded by volcanos, one still active called ‘Fuego’ (fire) and one dormant called ‘Agua’ (water).
We were met at the airport by Herman Alb from the Medical Ministries Mission, who is a pastor and a doctor with the organisation. It was evening by this stage and he took us through downtown Guatemala through the dark and busy streets to get to our destination, it seemed that the traffic lights and direction signs were just a guide and not mandatory!
The next day we were off on a 4-car convoy to give medical aid to a remote village. A team of doctors and nurses give their time, expertise and medical resources freely to render medical aid. The people in these remote villages aren’t normally able to make the journey to hospitals, either because of a lack of transport, or simply because they cannot afford the medicines required, so they come to these clinics.
We set up in a small church, and were met by the local pastor. Doctors’ stations, nurses’ stations, a makeshift pharmacy and also counselling stations were set up, where people would be prayed for and the gospel shared. They are incredibly humble and open to hearing the gospel, we saw many come to faith in Jesus and we witnessed a woman miraculously healed of a 7-year chronic kidney condition and she put her trust in the Lord Jesus. She came into the clinic crying with the pain, but left crying with tears of joy!
The people in this area are predominantly Catholic with an element of the Mayan culture. The main employment for women is sewing, particularly the national dress. For men it is farming, but many struggle with a lack of work and family abandonment issues, causing great poverty and hardship and lack of respect. Our team project was called Tapestry of Hope, the intention was to set up a women’s sewing project. We managed to raise £950 before going to Guatemala. By linking into a local church whilst there and connecting with the pastors wife, we were able to make our project become a reality. Previously there had existed a women’s sewing group but due to more pressing needs with their finances, (i.e. the need for water filters) they had had to put their group on hold. But now they would be able to restart their group to make and sell tablecloths.
For our second week we were taken to Camp Canaan (AMG) at Chimaltenango by Carlos our translator. Camp Canaan runs under the leadership of Jose Luis and his wife Orfa and the teenagers are able to attend thanks to a generous sponsorship programme that runs there. Each week new groups of students attend the camp where they enjoy a fun time of fellowship and games whilst hearing God’s word preached. Many come to know Christ as their Saviour. For many this is the first time they have travelled outside their cities and for some boys and girls from the slums of Guatemala City where violence and abuse are an everyday event, camp Canaan is a refuge where they feel safe and loved and don’t have to worry about the environment around them for the week that they are there. There is a counsellor who is attached to each group who basically lives with them.
We could see for ourselves as the week progressed, the change in the boys and girls aged 12yrs-14yrs. They became carefree, happy and content. They loved the team games, basketball, football, tag and British bulldog, but were equally engrossed in making friendship bracelets and we watched the boys creative side revealed as they designed paper plate masks to wear for the talent night!
The week ended with a talent night showcasing all they had learned throughout the week. It was fun, and in many cases emotional, as we had bonded with these beautiful youngsters. One boy said “you thought us so valuable you came just to be with us”! God’s presence was tangible and his overwhelming and unconditional love was keenly felt.
Thank you so much to all those who sowed financially into this trip and those who supported us in prayer. It was a privilege to serve the people of Guatemala and to serve our awesome God.