Stories - Guatemala June 2017 #7


Guatemala June 2017 #7

Katie Gonzalez | Jun 23, 2017

What an amazing week this has been! Each day half of our team headed to Mana de Vida, a school for impoverished children in the town of Escuintla. The other half of the team would head to a rural community to assist with a medical clinic.

The children at Mana de Vida are all coming from the poorest parts of the city and often do not attend school due to embarrassment about their clothing or lack thereof. Many have experienced many traumatic events, from the desertion of one or both parents to extreme lack of food to witnessing the death of a family member at a very young age. I was privileged to visit Mana on Wednesday and join in the team there.  Our team divided up between several tasks (dog kennel building, mural painting, sorting food to send home with students over the weekend, organizing pantries, teaching staff development, teaching self defense).  

I had no assigned task and looking around I felt overwhelmed with the needs I saw. As one team member later shared, “the needs were overwhelming and as I looked around, I realized I could not fix it all if I worked for a lifetime.”  Utter dependency on God was all that I could do. One team member asked a few of us if we’d come with her to wash the feet of the students.  As we walked, I asked my 11 year old son, why he thought we were doing this. I explained how much the disciples balked at Jesus washing their feet but that he was not only showing them how to serve but how to love. As we approached the first room, it was noisy and chaotic. I shared what I had told my son through the interpreter before offering to wash their feet. Many shook their heads no. They were embarrassed by their feet.  They balked just as the disciples had.  Just as my heart had when I’d thought of touching those dirty 10 year old feet. But what a beautiful experience. One child who was about 6 took off one shoe and glanced in shame at her foot.  She tried to hide it under the chair as she removed the second shoe.  As I washed and prayed over her, she slowly relaxed. Her smile was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.  

Thursday was the third day I spent at a clinic. Each day we had a chance to meet, share the gospel, and pray with local members of the community. Dr. Alb explained how their ministry was founded 30 years ago, with the goal of mobilizing the local pastors to inspire their congregation to reach out to their community, to love and pray for the people.  The medical clinic is one tool they can use to bring people to the church. Most rural agricultural families make about $5 a day and free government clinics are often closed.  Dr. Alb feels God allowed him to be a doctor not to cure people but to connect with them.  

Their ministry holds a yearly conference for the pastors to equip them. They also hold trainings for local businesses as well as a retreat for teenage girls from Mana. The hope of the retreat is to help the girls seem themselves as more valuable than just a female body, to be proud of who they are and to see themselves as loved by God and precious.