Today (Sunday). was our first village day. The plan was to go to church and then after, take family photos.

Because the church elders were at a meeting of sorts in the city, there was no church, and no families present to take photos of.

Flexibility is a prerequisite for a mission trip! By 9am, we were already on to plan C.

We were able to split up and visit homes and take some family photos. We made it to 21 homes out of 96. This time was a blessing, to actually spend a little time with each family and get to know them a little better. We were able to pray with them, as well which is often emotional for them. After lunch we had some families come to the school for photos. Interestingly, none of the fathers came for the family photos, only the women and children. Team member Taylor did an amazing job taking the photos.

Why family photos?

We have a photo printer with us and will print the photos and put them in a cardboard frame that team members painted before the trip. We will give these to the families on our last day.

Last year we took photos of the school children and put them in frames that they colored. As we were handing them out to the kids, they looked at the photos and didn’t realize it was a photo of them. Their friends had to tell them, “That is you!” Most hadn’t seen themselves before. There are no mirrors here. No car windows to see their reflection. Imagine your life without looking in the mirror. It might be kind of nice and add a simplicity to not worry about appearance.

At our evening team debriefing, we were able to share highs and lows of the day. There were many highs, mainly the time spent with the families and the kids. There are always a few lows as well, typically relating to living conditions and the challenges of building relationships through a translator.

A personal high for me was seeing my friend Santos. She is 96 years old, and we have developed a love and respect through hugs. Sounds odd, I know. We are always happy to see each other even though it’s very hard to communicate. Each trip my heart races a little bit until I see her and I dread the day we come and she is no longer here.

A personal low for me is technology. Progress is good, but not always. In a place where they aren’t a slave to time, they often just sit. And it’s good. They aren’t wondering what else they have to get done. They can just be. I saw two teenage boys in the village with a cell phone. They had headphones and each boy had one ear plugged and they were watching the phone. I’m not sure what they were watching but I couldn’t help but wonder what this community will be like in just a couple years as technology advances even further and more of them have access to phones. Will the influences of the outside world be good or bad? I remember our first trip here when we were excited to say we were from the United States. I said, “Who knows where the United States is?” Not one hand went up. They’re sheltered from the world. This might actually be a good thing.

I am very proud of this team. They pulled together and handled the changes in the plans without missing a beat. Karen and Sarah gave each team member a rubber band reminding us to be flexible. Romans 8:28…God has it under control. After all, we realize that none of this is our plan and we are here to implement Gods plan for our lives and the lives of our friends in Guatemala.

Hasta manana.

© 2015 Messiah Lutheran Church