Today was all about transitions. Our team woke up in Coban, had a nice breakfast at the hotel (Chapin is amazing BTW), then drove six hours to Guatemala City. We were glad that our days of long drives are over, but also very sad that we are done in the village of Maya Itza. Our little band of six rural travelers is finished and will be reabsorbed into our group of 13.
We returned to the Lutheran Center and reunited with the group that has been here all week. We sat around for a couple of hours eating snacks and swapping stories about our very different experiences. We laughed a lot and often times found ourselves talking over each other in all the excitement of wanting to share. It was truly a joyful reunion.
Pastora Karen met with us to go over the agenda for the next leg of our trip. Tomorrow we will worship with our partner congregation, Salvador del Mundo, eat lunch with them, then head to Antigua. Once we get on that bus we will no longer be a delegation from Easter working side by side with our partner congregations. We will be just another group of American Tourists visiting Antigua.
That reality hit home when Jerry led us through our devotions. We shared our highs and lows and each person had so many things they wanted to share. We were all sad that we are done with our partners. Jerry led us through the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10. He reminded us that, in light of all the negative political launguage in our country around people who are “different” this story reminds us that we are not to call anything profane that God calls good. The indigenous people of Guatemala are most often forgotten and despised by their own government and feared by our country. Yet, like Peter experienced as he stepped into Cornelius house, we have experienced the peace and welcoming of beautiful people who are loved and created in the image of God.
Today is, in many ways the end of our trip. We prayed that our last couple days of sight seeing will be a helpful way to decompress from all our intense experiences and ask God to show us what and how we can take home that will make a lasting difference.
There is so much to process that it is difficult to know what to say. I’m sure I will reflect on this trip in many blog posts to come, beyond the daily posts of the trip. I will close this post with one story about Royce.
Royce joined the trip with his heart set on traveling with our rural team to Maya Itza. He became ill the first night and decided to stay behind with the women in the City Team who were scheduled to work with women and children. That was not exactly what he signed up to do. When our rural team left, we wondered if he would be able to stay in Guatemala, that is how sick he felt.
Royce felt better the next day. What was that all about? Doesn’t that seem like such a disappointment?
Here’s the thing about Royce. He is an excellent photographer. He is also a man who is open to what God wants to teach him and do in his life. He told me tonight that he believes God kept him in the City in order to photo and video document the incredible work that the team did with the girls in the Milagro Women’s Center and the children of el Mirador. Royce was beaming as he showed me the amazing portraits he took of the girls of Milagro. He captured their warmth and beauty and offered them a sense of dignity that they have not felt before. The hundreds of photographs and videos that he produced will be a treasure chest for ILAG as they seek to further promote the work they are doing toward equal rights for women.
That seems to be how God often works. We have plans and God chuckles. Our plans are good, and it is important that we make them, but God’s perspective is so much bigger and so much better than anything we can imagine.
It has been another full day and it is late. Tomorrow morning I will preach the same sermon I preached in Maya Itza on Wednesday night.
More tomorrow on how the service went and our first night in Antigua.