God’s Presence in Guatemala

Jean Grant, 2016 October Trip, wrote this article for her church, Wesley UMC, Worcester, MA  following her trip.

God’s Presence in Guatemala

How can I describe our mission trip to Guatemala in less than 500 words? How about 11 words? Let’s start with that.

* memorable * vibrancy * motion * painful * smiles  * opening *

*heartwarming * humbling * happy *  friends * amazing *

Being in Guatemala is like a trip down the coffee aisle at the grocery store or to a coffee shop. It arouses all your senses and presents itself on many levels:

The sweet, nutty aroma; the bitter or rich dark roast; the visually stimulating colors of bags, cans, or cups; the sounds of grinding beans, dripping coffee-makers, or frothing of steamers; the smooth feel of beans or the coarse gritty grounds…

I could have chosen any analogy but coffee stood out (and not just because Guatemalan coffee is superb!) because I can taste, see, smell, touch, and hear it…much like I could experience all my senses while in Guatemala. There is no one way to experience this unique country, just like there is no one way to experience coffee (or tea) – to each their own. Each of the nine team members was asked to use one or two words to describe their experience this week. We all chose different words, as shown above by the eleven words.

I will let those words sit with you for a moment.

How do they describe an endeavor, project, event, or experience you have had here at Wesley or in the community (near or far)? What were your observations? How did you feel during or after it?

Although our team all shared in the physical journey, we each experienced our own spiritual journey. We took home different “God Moments” that affected us during our preparation, our time in Panajachel and Camanchaj, or upon our return home. I will boldly go out on a limb and say that we all felt, saw, tasted, smelled, and heard God’s presence in our team and in Guatemala.

Our trip took us from the speckled autumn of New England to the mountainous, rural, green highlands of central Guatemala (specifically Camanchaj, a Mayan village nestled in the Quiche state). Here resides a medical clinic and preschool (ages 5-7) created by Salud Y Paz for the purpose of fostering health and education of the mind, body, and spirit. Our primary project involved painting classrooms and furniture, painting and tiling/repairing the kitchen, digging a driveway, and other construction work. Our Guatemalan hosts worked beside us and we shared in a week of friendship-building. We shared joyful moments with the children. We joined in fellowship with the staff.

We experienced Guatemala.

…the culture, the life, the landscape, and the heart of a gracious people filled with God’s presence.

We take home not just the big picture but the beautiful, emotional, memorable details of this journey. We look forward to sharing our experience with the community of Wesley UMC. Just like not one word or one Herald cover can show the full picture of our time in the “land of the corn”, not one photo can either. But a gal can try with a few! As you view these images remember the eleven words I shared earlier. There is a different story behind each photo, but God’s presence is in all of them.

“Ut’z Ipetik” – all is good, all our welcome. {from the Mayan Quiche language}

Jean Grant, Dir. of Children’s Christian Ed.

With Gerard Piscitelli & Christian Grant

To learn more: http://www.saludypaz.org/