Earlier this year New Denver church took another mission trip to Guatemala, a country they are heavily invested in. Here’s a report on the trip from one of their leaders.
When our team arrived in Guatemala this Spring, I was thrilled to experience the culture of the lakeside villages, witness the school and church in action, meet Pastor Antonio and hear his stories of faith. I teared up while watching the NDC videos of others meeting their sponsored children but I started out with mixed feelings about meeting Yahir, the child I sponsor, and his family. Something about it made me feel uneasy. I wasn’t sure that it would be helpful – in nurturing the sustainable partnership between New Denver and Vida Real – for me to be the face of the support that allowed Yahir to go to school.
Antonio led our team members around the village to visit the homes of our sponsored children. When it was my turn, I followed Antonio, winding from the street through narrow alleyways, back to a small concrete home with laundry hanging from clotheslines and tree branches. Unsure in my language skills – and emotions – I brought my roommate and fellow NDC attender Meghan with me for translation and support. I shook hands with Yahir and he gave me a hug. I used my limited Spanish to ask him about his favorite classes and favorite activities (fútbol, of course!) Antonio then introduced me to Yahir’s mother, a beautiful woman in traditional Mayan clothing, holding a baby. She came out of the house and began speaking to me, showing me her home and introducing me to the rest of her five children. I wasn’t sure how to react when she pointed to all of her laundry hanging outside and asked me for laundry soap. She told me that she couldn’t afford it, and with her five kids, there was a lot of dirty laundry!
Two days went by as we continued to do work on the land next to the church and spend time with the children, and my thoughts kept returning to Yahir’s mother and her request for laundry soap. I knew that I could afford to buy her laundry soap for the whole year if I wanted to, but also that doing so could create a relationship where she depended on me, and likely wouldn’t help her become more self-sufficient in providing for her children in the long term. On the other hand, I saw that she had a very real, simple need that I was able to meet. If I didn’t do something, would I be ignoring an opportunity to show grace? I told these concerns to God and a few members of the team, and then brought the idea to Pastor Antonio. We decided that I would give him money to buy some laundry soap and take it to Yahir’s mother. This way, Antonio – the pastor of the church and a permanent member of the community – would be the one giving my gift and connecting with this family.
In spite of my initial mixed feelings about meeting Yahir and interacting with his family, I came to take joy in the fact that because of me, this child is able to attend school. A school that not only keeps him safe, but provides greater opportunities for his future as well as teaching him about following Jesus. I am incredibly grateful that God has given me the chance to see how my contribution has made a very practical difference in the life and future of a child and his family. So thank you for your support of the partnership between New Denver and Vida Real School in San Pablo. Your support has a positive impact on the futures of some pretty amazing young people. But don’t just take my word for it; go see for yourself!