The Bridge

Calle en AntiguaThe transition place from our work to the return home is Antigua again this year.  It is a beautiful city. There is not much “rest” but rather, a change of environment. There are many historical and beautiful sites to see.  It is a place to soak in the culture…to breath in the music and the art…to learn from what others are doing.  There are many volunteers in Antigua who are teaching the children and learning spanish.  If you talk with anyone on the street you will meet one of these volunteers.

I visited two special places in the last 2 days  The Moore Pediatric Surgery Center in Guatemala City and God’s Child Project in Antigua.  Both of these centers of hope were established by people who were stirred by a need and decided to act.  The two things I noticed about these projects that made me take interest:
1.  They listened to, respected and engaged the Guatemalan people in the project.  The murals on the walls of the Moore Pediatric Surgery Center are the result of 15 Guatemalan artists collaborating and painting to create a beautiful place for children when they come for surgery.

The mural at God’s Child Project. It was created by Freddy E. De Leon Cruz. Febrero del 2000.

The murals at God’s Child Project were also created by Guatemalan artists.

A view into the outdoor chapel at God’s Child Project. The chapel’s stone door is completely open…never closed. A sacred space for all to enjoy.

2.  Both projects engaged others in a way that allowed something amazing to emerge.  In each of these special places there were small tiles with names or a statement that provided a little history of who or what contributed to a certain room or area being established.  It was not done with a “look what I did” feel to it…it seemed more to be saying, “I’m honored to be a part of this vision”.

When I walked onto our church campus in Franklin, Tennessee Sunday morning I was greeted by a church family that I love.  I took off my coat and put on my robe.  I placed a stole from Guatemala around my neck. It has many colors, including purple, because it is the season of Lent.  The robe reminds me to set aside “me” and allow God to use me this morning.  The stole reminds me that I am here to serve.  Many people asked about our mission experience.  The prayer team had taken the journey with us in spirit.  The congregation took the journey with us in provision, in sponsoring of children and in prayer.  It is humbling to be a part of a community of faith that is willing to follow wherever God leads.

There was no anxiety when I got on the flight to come home.  There was no concern of leaving behind too much undone.  I only sensed peace.  The peace that surpasses all understanding. (Philippians 4: 6-7). The peace that says, “this is no longer a project or an event. This is life and the bridge between here and there is open.  Come and go with peace.” Let it be.

The palacia decorated for Lent in Antiqua

Honoring the Voice Inside

Julia has served as our Translator for this trip. She has been our “voice” with the local people. She has served with much grace and love. Here she assists Hania, the Principal, in making her final speech to the team on Wednesday morning.

Sometimes it is hard to hear your own voice in the “life noise” of all other voices.  There are voices of other people, but also of culture, technology, institutions and society.  The voice “inside” us can easily be drowned out by “life noise”.  All of us are created with a voice that speaks something amazing of God, our Creator.  “You knit me together in my mother’s womb, I am fearfully and wonderfully made” – Psalm 139.

The children presented several dances and the teachers gave us handmade gift as they expressed gratefulness and friendship to the team.

How do you honor the voice inside?  The ancient scripture teaching tells us that to honor the voice inside, we have to first love God..the one who created us and gave us life.  Some teachings are specific about this “honoring”:
* Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
* He who honors me, I will honor (I Samuel 2:30)
* Love God and self and neighbor  (Matthew 22:29)
* Who do YOU say that I am?  Know OUR relationship first! (Mark 8:19)

Woody’s voice includes an intentional and careful discipleship that is expressed in many ways. One of those ways is leading a group of skilled and unskilled volunteers in finishing a roof over 3 classrooms! Shelter is provided.

Part of the joy of being with a team is watching everyone find their specific gift for the total work and then put it into place.  B.J. offered a great devotional about this earlier in the week.  We have all seen it…Russell in the kitchen, Dudley at the dental clinic,  John and Calvin on the saw, Jack with the children….on and on and on. Beautiful.

The team has graciously allowed me to venture out and honor the voice God has placed in me.  Because of that grace, I have met many more people of this land and connected with local people who are engaged in sharing Hope and Love and Grace in whatever way God has given them to do it in this land.  These “adventures” have taken me off the roof (a place I actually really love to be) and into the homes, businesses, and streets of Guatemala.  Places I did not dream I would ever go….paths I didn’t know I would ever take. But “adventures” that have been deep inside me for many years. Let it be.

An unplanned home visit with a new family to me: Romelia Ceguan and her children: Luis, 14; Jonathan, 12; Adelia, 10; Eddy, 8; Jorge 5,; Jerimias, 3; and Jose, 1. Adelia and Eddy invited me to come.
Marvin is 16 now. He worked with us last year. His father, Andres, helped build the school at La Toma and is a dear friend of Norris. I just stopped by because I haven’t seen Marvin this trip. They brought out a framed picture of Norris and team when the school was dedicated. Continued friendships..old and new. God’s grace.
Magdelana’s Bible. She read Psalm 23 and 91 to me during our visit Wednesday

We stopped by Halo Guatemala to take care of Ezekiel's tuition and support for their great work in teaching deaf children to communicate. Jose Pablo directs this school.  This was a meeting of joy to see their continued work in the community.

This is a visit to Halo Guatemala, a school for the deaf where children learn to communicate. Ezekiel goes to school here and we are honored to have the opportunity to support their work in Mazatenango. 20 students go to school here and over 100 are on the waiting list of wanting to go but not able to afford it yet.  The staff volunteers their time for this amazing work.