A sudden shot of adrenaline is an effective way to wake up earlier than usual.

Here’s what happened. My ride was scheduled to pick me up at 4:00am this morning, so we could leave for Guatemala on a 6:30am flight. So, I set my watch alarm for 3:00am. That would give me plenty of time to get ready. The night was not restful, as is so often the case the night before a big trip. It felt like I had just fallen asleep when I rolled over, barely opened my eyes, and saw the clock tell me it was 3:15.

What!?! I had overslept. How did I not hear my alarm? I jumped out of bed and grabbed my watch to see how it had failed me.

It said 2:54am. I was so confused. I went down to the kitchen and every other clock in the house agreed with my watch. They all looked at me with pity. Somehow my old clock on the dresser had gotten twenty minutes fast.

Adrenaline really does wake you up fast. At least I was wide awake and ready to meet the early day of travel.

Thirteen of us gathered at the airport and shared a flawless trip. We had a layover in Atlanta, then landed in Guatemala City a little after noon. Diego, the coordinator of delegations for the Iglesia Luterana Augustana de Guatemala greeted us with a warm smile. We loaded our luggage onto the small bus and I greeted Estuardo, the man who was our driver the last time I visited Guatemala. It was very good to see him again.

Diego took us all to Patsy’s for lunch where we shared a lovely meal and slowly eased ourselves into the reality. We were actually here after months of meetings and preparation.

We finally arrived at the Lutheran Center in Guatemala City in the late afternoon. Then the heavens opened. It has been raining hard all evening. The sound of rain on the roof is soothing.

The highlight of the day for all of us was definitely the moment that we got to tour the Milagro Women’s Center and meet the students there. This center has been a dream of ILAG for years. Easter Lutheran Church has been a big contributor to its fulfillment. Now, after all the dreaming and the building, nine young women, ranging in age from 11-20, have a safe and stable home in which they can gain a solid education and learn skills that will help them get work and make a way in their society.

This seems so basic to us, as we view it through our middle-class, white, MidWestern eyes. Yet, this is an unthinkable dream for most girls who were born into the indigenous villages of Guatemala. Most women in this culture have no voice, no power, and no hope of being more than a baby-making machine for their appointed husbands.

Now, because of the Milagros Women’s Center, these young women have the opportunity to explore all the possibilities to become all that God is creating them to be. It was humbling and exciting to meet them and share in this moment.

I was equally disturbed when I learned that some of the girls who intended to join the center were sent to the border of the United States instead. One of the biggest struggles the villages face is the lure of wealth and success that people think they will find when they come to our country. Fathers will sell their land and pay “coyotes” to take their daughters to the border. Many times these girls are taken and sold in human trafficking. I can’t bear to think of it.

Tomorrow our team divides. I will travel with six others to make a two-day trek north to the village of Maya Itza. Please continue to pray for safety on the rain-soaked roads as we drive across the mountains.

Until tomorrow.

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