Over Spring Break I journeyed to Guatemala with a team of Cornell students to volunteer for the Christian nonprofit organization Hope-Renewed International. Here’s my reflection.
Now I have heard voices from the ghetto, from the dump, from a women’s prison, from the Mayan hills of Santiago, from bustling, parentless homes of children. I am changed from what I have heard.
I did not know what to expect from this first missions trip, God, but you planned it perfectly. You knew I would witness the pain of past violence, the humble, wavering grounds of poverty, the beautiful, universal hearts of kids, the need for community and redemption, and your heart for every human on earth. You, O LORD Our Creator, dwell with the oppressed everyday, providing a purpose, hope, and a future. You take care of your people, despite the wages of our sin, the magnitude of our suffering… all through the manifestation of our faith.
It was amazing to be part of your care for the Guatemalan people by serving with Hope-Renewed, and to see it rebound back to me. When I carried roof tins along La Limonada streets to build a family’s shelter, when I bonded beyond language through the game of fútbol, when I listened- simply listened- to how you work in every person’s life… I was shown again and again the ability of Christ’s love to shatter sin and strife. The moments with fellow human beings of a different culture, different tongue, and different landscape were so marvelous, Lord, that they will remain imprinted upon my life memory.
And while such interactions were very real and very unforgettable, I kept being reminded of the quote,
When you travel, the first thing you discover is that you don’t exist.
You brought me to Guatemala not for me to transform it, but to transform my view of You. To see how You can transform communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God, you are present everywhere, alive in every good thing. When You allow us to see another part of Your creation, You allow us to see more of Your power, Your divine diversity, Your love for all- instead of ourselves. In that way, You have confirmed my desire to travel, despite the small fears and inexperience I cling to. Working with Ashley Williams (Hope-Renewed’s director) has enhanced my view of missions; her testimony shows the need to take risks and to perform actions only achievable with Holy Spirit. I discovered,
To be fearless is to fear the Lord.
I know that now, but of course it is easier said than done. I pray, Lord, that you give me the fire, endurance, selflessness, and trust in Your Name to do the work you have prepared for me to do. It is so hard to express everything that you revealed to me this week, God. For some reason I needed to wait to reflect. I had to absorb every difficult moment as it came without question or a critical eye, in order to accept reality and the unstoppable power of your Gospel to guide lives in every place.
Lord… I could go on and on, and I pray you give me time to type and let the Guatemalan voices be heard by all, but for now I will end with thanks. Thank you for giving me this foreign experience, for the joyful, patient brothers and sisters I was able to share it with, for this week of exploration, understanding, and escape from the bubble of Cornell.
My heartstrings were pulled by You in so many ways- many of which I have yet to comprehend. I pray I will understand as my future comes to pass. All I feel is an aching in my heart, a signal of change. Ultimately, LORD, I discovered in Guatemala the living truth of Your words,
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – Romans 12:12
In Jesus’s Name,