If a picture says a thousand words, this story will be 10,000 words long. We hope to capture in the following 10 groupings of pixels what we expierenced, saw, and took part in during the 2016 TEAM Vision Trip to Guatemala. What's a vision trip? It's a shorter trip designed to help anyone who is exploring a call to missions to see and experience what it could be like to serve long-term (from home or abroad, really). So the idea is to see some of the places where God is working, see firsthand the needs and gifts of a culture, the ugly and the beautiful, breathing the air for yourself and dreaming a bit about what how God could use you or others to further His kingdom there (or elsewhere). It's more than tourism. It's different than a strictly service-oriented short-term mission trip. So what did we see? What vision did we catch?
Pedro is a renaissance man, no doubt about it. He endured a childhood working in the fields to pay off his grandma's debt, fell into alcoholism at age 9 (that's not a typo), but was drawn out of it by a faithful pastor who saw some promise in him. He had grown up speaking the tribal language, Kaqchiquel, but in his teens, he more or less taught himself to read and how to speak Spanish without having gone to school. At 18 his friend dragged him to take an exam to be one of a handful of people who would translate the Bible into Kaqchiquel for the first time. Much to his disbelief, he was selected! After 11 years of translating, he had completed his project with translating, but still uses every corner of his life and his house creatively, either to do ministry or make enough money to do ministry. His wife cuts hair, he sells ice cream, he does puppet ministry, he makes reflective videos, he disciples and ministers to the local police force, he does Vacation Bible Schools in Honduras, he does woodwork, he's a runner, and he showed us around an agricultural school! Quite an inspiration, See Pedro below, holding the Kaqchiquel Bible he helped to translate.
Alejandro works for Deditos, who make videos of Bible stories using finger puppets. Because the mouths drawn on the fingers don't move, it's a lot easier to dub over in different languages. While the Bible has been translated into many tribal languages, many of those rural villagers can't read. Audio bibles are a great solution, but the Deditos videos draw the attention of the people and are telling the narrative of God creatively to thousands of people! We saw every piece of the video-making process: writing, set-up, filming, animation, editing, dubbing.
We talked alot about the contrast in Guatemala. Rich and poor live across the bridge from eachother. Gaudy malls and dirty, hopeless slums. Historically Catholic, becoming more and more evangelical/pentecostal, and Christian by culture but so many who are far from the church due to hipocrisy and manipulation. Prosperity gospel in the Church, while few invest in transforming their communities through the real and holistic gospel. Modernized and westernized on one hand, while seemingly 200 years behind in rural areas. Flashy Domino's ads on the street, with women making tortillas over a wood flame in the house nextdoor.
We saw this contrast illustrated in special tour of the national cemetery, used to map the deepest wounds in Guatemala from its history: the socio-economic wound, the racial wound, the religious wound, and the political wound. What are the wounds of your city? Where would you go to tell visitors the history of your city?
Iglesia Reforma was planted in July of 2015 with a partnership between TEAM missionaries and local Guatemalans. They focus on preaching purely from the Bible (no fluff), binding the wounds that congregants have recieved from being a part of unhealthy churches, training their congregation knowing and using the gospel in their daily lives, and doing community well. God is so at work here -- bringing hearts and lives into His kingdom and healing people from their hurting pasts.
God is using Sigo Vivo to show the street population of Zone 3 that God's love is for them, that they are the Body of Christ, and that God can use them. Many in the Sigo Vivo family deal with addiction to solvents and/or marijuana, suffer from street violence, poor living conditions, and broken families. On Saturdays they share a meal together, open up God's word, do and activity, and provide some basic health care. But the anthem of Sigo Vivo is to walk alongside these folks, with the goal that they might leave drug addiction, be empowered to live a healthy life, and be active and God-dependent members of the Church.
Corazon De Amor and Salud Que Transforma health clinics do beautful ministry to the poor through health care. Corazon de Amor gives free health care to people without resources in the Zone 3 slums of Guatemala City, and is moving towards a community health education initiative to teach community members how to deal with common health problems they have. Salud Que Transforma provides affordable (not free) health care to the community of Palin, focusing on a self-sustaining model which also includes water filtration, an affordable certified nursing school for community members, and a tutoring program for kids. Partnering with these clinics helps TEAM nurses imagine how they can best care for the physical and spiritual health of communities in Guatemala which suffer from malnutrition, diabetes, poor hygeine, fume-filled air, lack of opportunity to thrive, and poor living conditions, to name a few.
Our last night happened to fall on the 4th of July! Needless to say, we had to celebrate, being a group of 13 Americans gathered in Guatemala City, so out came the bratwurst, pasta salad, and sparklers!
Oh yeah, there's this little slice of paradise in Guatemala called Lake Atitlan. We took a few days near the like to reflect on what we'd been seeing, see a few nearby ministries, hike a volcano, go on a boat ride, and pray together. And our prayer through it all was this: That God might do what He wants with our lives and that we might be willing to follow. That God might do what He will with the hurt, the hope, the pain, and the promise of Guatemala and that we might be willing to follow. That we might be willing to follow.
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