Thursday, June 30, 2016

Lessons Learned and Lives Changed

Dear All,

So it turns out that maintaining a blog while in Guatemala is much, much more difficult than we had anticipated. We found very quickly that our anticipated "schedule" that we had been given was more like a suggestion to follow, as plans changed and were adapted daily! We had travel delays throughout (all taken in stride by our incredible team), found ourselves booked from 7:00 a.m. until at least 7:00 p.m. (oftentimes later) at nights, and no WiFi access at our hotel in Chajul. Nancy was able to make it to an Internet Cafe one day, but save our first night last night, those were our only moments with WiFi, and even then they were for brief snippets of time.

So, until we can give you a more formal presentation, here are some pictures of the trip to give some highlights. Hopefully more members of the team will weigh in here with some reflections, so be on the lookout!

First thing Wednesday morning! Bright-eyed (and a bit bleary) at 4:15 a.m. in front of WPC! We survived our flights from Richmond, to Atlanta, to Guatemala City! We were met by Philip Beisswenger and two members from Guatemala City's Central Church: Pastor Jenner and Elder Romolo. From there we traveled to Coban!

In Coban, we were able to meet the students in High School and have a wonderful lunch with the five students (right to left: Haerson, Elena, Catalina, Elizabeth, Pastor Jenner, Mateo, and Philip B). (Also, I'm guessing at much of the spelling here, so if names are misspelled, I apologize in advance!)

From Coban, we all made our way over to Chajul! By far the longest day of driving (we had a 2+ hr delay), through/alongside mountains, gravel roads, and potholes everywhere. 

This gives you an idea of the roads and the lack of any sort of guard-rail as we were driving up and down and through the mountains! But the views were absolutely STUNNING!

We arrived in Chajul (definitely less bright eyed, more bleary eyed), and had our first of many meals at Pastor Miguel's house in Chajul. That Thursday night also marked the beginning of the new normal: being surrounded by the children of Chajul. Tim was the first one to have an official fan club, but don't worry, by the end of the trip, everyone had multiple children gathered about them!

Friday was started out by painting the inside of the church! We painted alongside many of the scholarship students, as well as members of the worship band at the church!

Some of us were more covered in paint than others...and Pastor Miguel (of Chajul) and Elder Romolo (from Guatemala City) were gracious in helping to clean our hands of the oil-based paint!

On Saturday, we had expected to be doing children's activities. We found out that we would be doing painting instead on Saturday morning. But then, as we had a pack of children refusing to let our hands go to even pick up a paintbrush, it was decided that we should go with Plan A: children's activities. Here, we're in the Study Center and the kids are painting with water colors! (A huge shout out to Kelly K. for the idea--it was a great success!)

And of course, if there was one thing that the kids requested every day: photographs. They LOVED having their pictures taken, then seeing themselves. Yours truly (Pastora Rocky as I was affectionately nicknamed), was more than happy to teach them the beautiful art of the selfie.

Sunday was started with 14 baptisms down at the river, about 5 miles outside of Chajul. Philip and Pastor Miguel were the ones who conducted the baptisms of people ranging from the ages of 10-65 (two were scholarship students!).

Later that afternoon, it was time to go to worship, where we would see our first Ixil wedding, and Pastora Rocky would preach! But first, a walk with some of the kids looking out over Chajul.

As you can see, they were always reaching for someone's hand or arm to hold onto!

Monday morning we woke to a rainy day: the perfect day for more children's activities! Kayleigh and Tim played with the kids while Nancy, Bob, and I set up watercolors and coloring. Pews were covered with artwork. Pastor Miguel (on the far left) came in around mid-morning, as well as Donald Poz (Central Church member and our photographer for this picture) to teach the kids a bible verse and play games with them as well. 

There was much more that happened, some captured by photographs and others not. Regardless, our trip was truly incredible. Each of us had fears and anxieties walking in, and each of us walked away different people, touched deeply by the love and fellowship experienced with our brothers and sisters in Guatemala. We'll do a more formal presentation later in the summer, but know that our brothers and sisters from Chajul and Guatemala City (and the Beisswengers in Coban) send their greetings and love to all at WPC. 

Pastora Rocky
(aka Pastor Rachel)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Gearing up for Guatemala!

Our team had a meeting last night and we are feeling all parts eager and excited, and of course feel some nerves in various areas from food, to travel, to language. Be on the lookout for another upcoming blog next week where the team will be introduced, as well as tell our beloved WPC family how to be praying for us in preparation for the trip! Our hope is to have someone blogging at least once a day while we're abroad, and sharing some of our adventures with our brothers and sisters in Coban, Chajul, and Guatemala City!

I ask, as ever, that you would be praying for us, and offer up this prayer by Freda Rajotte:

"O Lord, I don't want to be a spectator,A tour passenger looking out upon the real world,An audience to poverty and want and homelessness.Lord, involve me - call me -Implicate me - commit me -And Lord - help me to step off the bus."

Blessings -- Rev. Rachel C. Hebert