I was just sitting here thinking about all the things we did over the week. First of all, just a huge shout out to the Kendalls. Without them the whole would not have happened. Carol and Forrest have such a love for the people of Guatemala, and such a desire to do what God has called them to do. We stayed at their house, did the work they put together for us, and generally just enjoyed the time we spent with them.
Here are some of the highlights that I remember most clearly, some of which I've blogged about elsewhere, some not:
- Four hard-working days in the water filter factory, building water filters for people who desperately need clean water.
- Many visits to wonderful, loving families filled with people living in abject poverty, yet who were very friendly and loving to us. Multiple times, for example, at Oscar's house, his sisters thanked me for coming by their house and visiting them. As if a visit from me was any great shakes!
- My wonderful little friend Sandra, whom I simply cannot get out of my mind.
- Preaching at 2:00am to drunk partiers in the middle of the central parque of Antigua, and having one young man simply say in response to our gospel presentation "Peco" ("I sin" - as if the rest of us don't) and having a young lady look at me pleadingly and say "¿Qué puedo hacer?" ("What can I do?"). Most of the people were laughing at us, of course, but if you can reach even one person it's totally worth it.
- Since it's fresh in my mind, the conversation I had with our cab driver to the airport in Guatemala City. After he told me that he worshipped God "en mi manera" ("in my own way") and declaring he didn't believe hell existed as a real place, I had the privilege of sharing the gospel with him for the remaining half hour of our cab ride. At the end, he thanked me and we parted pleasantly, me giving him a gospel tract which had thoughtfully been supplied by Carol that morning.
- The fun restaurant we went to twice, La Peña de Sol Latino, featuring live music. (Their web site appears to be down right now.) One night they had excellent Peruvian music featuring the restaurant's owner (a gringo) on the conga drums.
- The cultural events of Semana Santa, at once so beautiful and so tragic because so many people are putting their faith in objects of God's creation rather than the God who created them.
- The warm, friendly people we met everywhere. Nowhere did we have people look at us and say (at least out loud) "stupid gringos". (We were not, of course, acting like stupid gringos, which no doubt helped greatly.)
- All the people I gave tracts to. I can remember many of their faces and am praying for each of them. I remember especially well all the people working around La Merced cathedral. I walked up to each of them and said something along the lines of "Gracias por su servicio aquí ... Puedo ver que está interesado en cosas espirituales ... ¿puedo darle un regalito con más sobre Dios?" ("Thanks for your service here ... I can see you are interested in spiritual things ... can I give you a little gift with more about God?") I even - what can I say, I'm getting bold in my old age - approached several nuns and gave them tracts.
- An excellent new book I found called Correct Your Spanish Blunders. In my opinion, this is the second-best book on fine-tuning your Spanish I have ever found (second only to Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish). I will be ordering this from amazon tout de suite.
So ... where do we go from here? Honestly, I'm not 100% sure. One thing I know: I am praying that God never lets me be the same again. If you can go to a place like Guatemala and come out unchanged, there's something wrong with you. I am sincerely praying that God does not let me be like that.
One tentative thought I had: there are so many people with needs there that you cannot fix everybody's situation. However, you can help people you have a connection to. So, I will be pondering and praying over the next days and weeks how I might be able to help Sandra's and Oscar's families. One thought I had was that since education is the way out of poverty for hard-working people like Oscar's and Sandra's families, and it costs money to send kids to school, perhaps we could sponsor a few kids to go to school.
Ja will follow up with a final posting of his thoughts after this amazing trip. For now, God bless all, and I'm off to bed. Work tomorrow ... let's just say that I'm not looking forward to getting back to work. I am thankful that I have it, if for no other reason than I can make money to go on wonderful trips like Ja and I have just made.