Students Answer Question

Sunday the Guatemala Mission Team was featured at Tool Time.  Father Peter acted as mc and about half the team, being in town, was able to discuss their hardest and easiest moments; the greatest benefits to KidsAlive and to themselves; their love for the girls; and the growth as Christians we all experienced.

KidsAlive’s website provides opportunities to partner in many countries.  However, KidsAlive Guatemala is one of the few worldwide who are primarily committed to helping sexually abused girls. They are also committed to helping girls who age out of their program be successful.  They partner with IJM (formerly ICJM) to acquire justice for many of the girls.

An overview of our trip can be found here.  And feel free to read below for personal testimonies and photos of the trip.

Josie on the Mission Adventure – Part 3 of 3

P1010164

This is not the church. But it looked something like this house.

Unsure of what we were literally getting into, we ventured into the church. Even though we were 45 minutes late to the service, several Guatemalans gladly gave up their seats in the second row for us to sit. Looking anxiously at the forty or so Guatemalans in the room, my glances were returned with the brightest smiles. It was apparent they were genuinely excited for us to be with them. They began to dance around, clap their hands, and passionately sing their song of worship. Soon, we too joined in the intoxicating praise of Jesus.

A large smile grew on my face as I realized that all of us in that church were united by the strongest bond to Jesus I had ever felt; It didn’t matter that each one of us on the missions team look different and could not communicate by language with the Guatemalans. The fact was that we could, and were, communicating with each other in a love that was bigger and greater than all of us – for something that was bigger and greater than all us. We were all the exact same in the eyes of Jesus Christ. And that was worth celebrating.

We stayed for nearly an hour longer after entering the church, and many exciting and unexplainable occurrences happened, which are too extensive to recount in this story.

However, I would like to make a final point about my story: it is a parable about coming to faith, and a revival of my own. In the drudgery of our normal lives it is easy to forget why we work, and why we are here, which was similar to going through the motions of construction and not always knowing why. Yet, throughout our lives we experience a pull to be interested in something more, which was like my curiosity for the music. And sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones and take a leap of faith to realize that there is more “out there.”

Sometimes we just have to want God, and other times He asks us. God doesn’t speak to people so much as through people; and, in my case that Friday night, it was an unspoken invitation from an unknown Guatemalan to passionately worship the Lord with my heart rather than words. Real love glowed on the faces of those service goers, and I am blessed to have experienced it all. 

Josie on the Mission Adventure – Part 2 of 3

DSC_0178Wednesday proceeded much the same as the following two days with construction in the morning and early afternoon. The Saint Michael’s team had completed five levels of cinderblock and laid horizontal rebar on top. That evening, after the soccer match, we attended a lovely service with the Guatemalan Girls.

Finally, Thursday too was similar to the past three days, with construction, soccer, dinner, and games. However, that night following the ping-pong, Justin, myself, and several others heard the beautiful music from tin shed. Everyone listening seemed to be as enamored with the enchanting Latin-American music as I had been two nights before. I distinguished the word “Jesus,” which carried on the harmony as we sat in silence, appreciating the distant music. Soon we were scared to our rooms for the night when several gunshots echoed through the hills.

Friday arrived as the last day of construction. The St. Michael’s Team worked tirelessly that morning to pour concrete to encase the horizontal rebar of the Ester House. We had the final afternoon off to rest and play with the girls. Our team prepared a bon-fire that night and invited the girls to join.

Cold gusts of wind swept down from the mountains, and the warmth of the glowing fire was seductively inviting. Most of our team sat leisurely around the fire basking in its warmth, perhaps trying to recover from the intense past week. Soon after the fire began, Justin quietly asked me if I wanted to go on a walk to find the musicians in the tin shed. I accepted and followed him to the large steel gate of the compound, where John, Ellen, and Charlotte were standing. The five of us slowly opened the huge gate and quickly locked it behind us.

We nervously wandered down the lonely dirt road beneath the dim light of the pitiful street lamp and turned into the darkness of an unlighted, narrower street. A mangy dog burst from the darkness and attacked the frail fence, which protected us and ran along the side of the street. The growing sound of music, which dulled the savage barks of the dog, encouraged us. We walked faster. Eventually, we stumbled upon the vivacious house of music and saw that it was also a small house of worship. The doors were wide open and we were content to simply listen to the small service from the outside, when a small Guatemalan man greeted us warmly. Though he could not speak any English, and we could not speak any Spanish, we understood that he wanted us to go into the service.

 

Part two of three. . . The last installment tomorrow.

Josie on the Mission Adventure – Part 1 of 3

Josie is going to use to it as his Facebook photo

I was expecting a vacation when our plane, packed full of St. Michael’s missionaries, landed in Guatemala City.  But after our first grueling eight-hour work day, my muscles felt as twisted and tight as the wire I used to stabilize the rebar extending from the foundation of the future Ester House. The Ester House was our construction project for the week; it was the tangible result of our hard work. The amount of work a unified team can accomplish in a few short days is incredible. Yet, even more amazing are the ways in which individuals can grow when they venture outside their comfort zones.

My personal story begins on the second day of construction, which was a Tuesday.  The sun beat down on us as we labored to complete the first layer of cinderblock.  After we returned from the construction site to the Oasis, which was our place of residence for the week, the afternoon soccer game began with the Guatemalan Girls. I thoroughly enjoyed the many soccer games; they were an excellent way to bond with the Guatemalan Girls, who were staying at the Oasis to recover and grow after abusive childhoods. To end that Tuesday evening, some of the team headed to the game room for ping-pong, foosball, and air-hockey. This was the typical workday for the St. Michael’s team.

On the way back to my room for bed, I heard faint music drifting down from the Guatemalan hillside. I climbed the external staircase of the one of the buildings in the compound to listen to the music unhindered by the thick cinderblock wall topped with electrically charged barbed wire surrounding the compound. From above the wall, I stood mesmerized by the harmonious music with its smooth Spanish lyrics riding on the chilly summer breeze. I could see a small tin building from which the music and fluorescent light poured out of wide seams between the thin walls. The small enclosure sat nestled between lush trees and a dilapidated concrete building, nearly 500 yards from the Oasis Compound. I was lulled by the tune for several minutes before sleep and weariness drew me back to the dorm for sleep.

Part one of three.  More tomorrow.

Madison’s Thoughts on our Mission Adventure

P1010148On July 13th, 12 members of the youth group along with seven adult chaperones flew to Guatemala City. Once in Guatemala we were taken to the Oasis, a home for the orphaned or abused girls.

Our time at Kids Alive Guatemala was awesome. Not only did we get to work together as a team to help accomplish something special for these girls, but we became extremely close with our group and the few years of age difference were diminished.

Monday thru Friday were long hard days of working at the construction site. The new house we were building is designed for girls who had reached the age of 18 at the Oasis to then move into a new place to develop more responsibility and freedom.

I am proud to say that I now know how to rebar, pull out nails, clean wood, make concrete, and lay cinder blocks. I can say on behalf of the team that our arm muscles have gotten bigger. It was a lot of work but so rewarding, especially because you knew afterwards you were going to go back to the Oasis compound to play with cards, go on the trampoline, or battle it out on the soccer field with the girls. My experience in Guatemala was fantastic.

I miss it already and I want to go back next summer with St. Michaels.

 

Top 10 Ways to Know your Child was on the Mission Trip

1.  They don’t complain about emptying the dishwasher as often.

2.  They think that waking up for school is sleeping in.

3.  They don’t flush anything down the toilet except #1 and #2.

4.  Their shirt sleeves don’t fit anymore because their arm muscles are bulging.

5.  They understand the meaning of “farmer’s tan.”

6.  Have a knowledge of the chemical composition of concrete and what it does to skin.

7.  Translating their thoughts into Spanish and back to English before speaking.

8.  Complaining that none of the fruit in Charleston is tasty.

9.  Actually excited to do their own laundry.

10.  Understanding that “Community” isn’t just a TV show.

 

Photos from Friday.

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You cannot imagine how hard, hard, hard everyone worked today.  We mixed vast amounts of concrete, poured it into wheelbarrows, dumped the wheelbarrow loads into gallon buckets, poured them into our frames from yesterday, tamped out the air pockets, and smoothed the tops.  - All that before lunch.

After lunch we moved around 250 cinderblocks to help out the next team coming in.  The kids had a blast doing it.