I can’t believe we’ve made it this far.
And after finishing such a significant week I can’t help but ask, what’s left?
So much still.
But wow what a week. We spent our last 10 days at a retreat centre just outside of the city of Coban. It wasn’t much of a retreat though; it was a week full of discomfort and so much growth.
Many previous students of this program have often talked about this week being so incredibly significant and I can already feel that. I can feel that I will be processing this week for many many more.
We spent our time working with an organization called Community Cloud Forest Conservation . (Look them up to read more about them). But basically they do incredible work taking care of God’s creation (people, plants and all) and working on development in the surrounding villages. And all in the name of Christ.
Our first few days were spent touring a couple of the surrounding villages. We had a chance to go to two villages where Outtatown had previously stayed and it was so incredible to see the legacy we are a part of and also the amazing work that CCFC has done also. And this work doesn’t just mean helping, it’s work of empowerment.
The catch though for visiting some of these villages meant having the full experience of what it was like to not have a vehicle and to have to walk from village to village. Actually I should say hiking. For hours. And might I also mention the amount of rain this area of Guatemala gets – a lot.
But I wouldn’t have changed this part off the experience for anything.
The Lord was definitely teaching me trust through these moments, that He would care for me physically, and of course a lot of perseverance.
On our third day there, a Sunday, we hiked to yet another village and got to experience a very small church service in the native Mayan language Kekchi. Despite the language barrier and cultural differences I felt so incredibly welcomed there. And as we broke bread together I felt so reminded that we all serve the same Jesus and we are all brothers and sisters.
During our next few days there we had the chance to be a part of a kids program that the organization runs for kids finished grade 6, since this is usually the year where kids (mostly girls) drop out of school. So this program is designed to bring awareness of other programs that CCFC has and also to just educate them more on things like gardening and growing nutritious food, as well as just caring for themselves and the creation around them.
We got to sit with them in class, play games with them and garden with them. But wow, I am constantly humbled by being the minority.
After 3 days of hanging out with the kids, we then had the most incredible experience of all. We each got to go back with one kid to their village and stay with them in their home for 2 nights. Now this was an experience that I will surely never forget.
I was blown away by these people that welcomed me into their home, fed me well and made sure I was warm enough in the cold night. And although conversation was limited (since they spoke Kekchi), love and laughter was not.
One day, my host mom had been gone to the market all day since it was in the next village over. She returned around 5 and right away placed a little piece of cake and a banana in front of me. And I have never felt so thankful for food in my life.
And despite the uncomfortableness of the cold and the awkward, thank Jesus that I was able to dwell. Dwell by the fire while my host mom made tortillas and dwell with the kids as we played cards for hours. I was able to dwell and share humanity.
Now walking away from this experience, there’s no way that I can say these people are poor or that they aren’t well off or that they need more help.
They are so rich. Richer than some of the wealthiest homes in Canada. Rich in love and hospitality and rich with the joy of Jesus Christ.
We all have much to learn. Always.