Public schools in Guatemala have been closed for two years. Two years. Some online learning was offered, but many students do not have access to technology at the level needed for learning. Schools were scheduled to reopen on Monday, January 31st, but many did not. COVID continues to move through families and communities. A mask mandate is in place. The current vaccination rate for Guatemala is 31.2%. For perspective, the current USA vaccination rate is 64%. All over the world, we are living through a new experience. Everything has changed.
And still, children have dreams! Their minds need exercise and challenge. They look to adults to help them discover how learning and education opens our lives. The spirit and mind of a child is so deeply shaped by the encouragement, mentoring and love they experience in these early years.
There are 23 children sponsored through ACD Guatemala and 19 of those sponsors are through Franklin FUMC. These 23 children are attending a private school, Ad-Astra La Esperanza, so they can continue to learn and thrive. Each morning the children come to ACD and are given transportation to school. If they have need of supplies, they receive them. The children know someone is waiting for them each morning at ACD Guatemala and that someone believes in them. When they get on that bus and are on their way to school, they know an army of love is going in with them!
The presentation for our visit to the school began with the raising of the flags. The children gathered at the bottom of a steep garden area and their bright eyes watched with anticipation. The flags of Tennessee, USA and Franklin First UMC all raised as our national anthem played. ACD Guatemala, Ad-Astra La Esperanza and Guatemala flags all raised as the Guatemalan national anthem played and the children sang. We are here. Together. A big dream is unfolding.
When the kingdom of God is fully present on earth it is hard to tell who is serving who, because we are all serving from a mutual place of sharing what we have: giving and receiving…together. The story of ACD Guatemala, Ad-Astra La Esperanza, and Franklin First UMC is one of those thin places that we cannot stop from flourishing. Geography and land are involved, but the friendships that connect here for a greater purpose are the real story.
If I begin to write the sequence of events that brought this moment into being the miracles are so intertwined the story overflows. I cannot find its beginning, there is no static moment, nor is there a natural end. It is a fountain overflowing. It is out of our hands, out of our control. We can only give witness to the fruitfulness and praise God for allowing us to be a part. I am so grateful to be a part of a community of faith that serves with others in whatever way brings hope where it is needed.