This year I was fortunate enough to travel to Guatemala on my second short-term mission trip with Faith in Action, a ministry that my wife and I support, which has grown near and dear to my heart. It was such an awesome adventure last year that I wanted to make sure to return again to see what God had in store for us, and, man, did He deliver!
It was sincerely a life-changing experience for me this year, and I am so thankful for the opportunity. In my experience, I have found there is almost nothing that compares to mission trips in terms of supercharging your spiritual life and passion for doing God’s will! If you are reading this, and have never been on one, either domestic or international, I would strongly encourage you to do so; you will be glad you did. Sure, it will be a sacrifice, but if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be nearly as powerful. It may take you out of your comfort zone at times, but unfortunately, that’s the only way to grow with anything. No pain, no gain.
This year, since we had such a small group going, we combined efforts and served alongside a large group of about 20 people from Hilltop Church from Michigan. It turned out to be such a huge blessing! We started the trip with them as strangers, but by the end, we had made life-long friends. It was awesome to be down there with such a large, diverse, passionate group of people, eager to do God’s work, as well as let Him work on us. The fellowship that you experience while on a mission trip is unlike anything else, and it’s so enlightening to see the body of Christ working in such a healthy manner.
Everyone always asks, “Well, what did you do?” or “What was the project?” And that is a tough one to answer for a couple of reasons. First of all, Faith in Action has so many things always going on that it’s never just one project. We worked on so many things while down there it’s hard to summarize. Also, one of the key things I have learned since going down there is that it’s really not about the projects, that is, the construction aspect of the work. It’s about people, and showing God’s love not only to the people of Guatemala but also to the missionaries and volunteers! That’s really the important work that’s being done; not how many structures you built, or projects you completed. Yeah, those things are important too, but relationships and showing God’s love is more important. That is what will be remembered once all is said and done.
But I suppose I should still describe the projects that we did work on… The main project was continuing the progress on the nutrition center which is being constructed across the street from the existing beautiful 3-story dormitory. The center will be used to facilitate basic medical needs for mountain villagers, mainly the women and children. The center was started last year, so it was really rewarding to see the progress that had been made since then. We painted the first floor, installed ceiling fans and lights, carried cinder blocks to the roof, and helped prepare the second story floor for tiling. The buildings in Guatemala must withstand high humidity and earthquakes, so everything is concrete, which makes for slow progress. But the buildings will last forever which is cool to think about.
We were able to visit several different mountain villages around Zacapa, which was such a unique and joyful experience. We attended church on Sunday in the village of Matasano. Later in the week, we built ten church benches in another village where they absolutely could not wait for us to get started on building a church for them. We also worked in another village on a retaining wall, so that they could hike up to their new church that was under construction. Later in the week, we visited the dump where people regularly sift through the waste for recyclables. It’s an incredibly powerful experience, and God really touched my heart this year through it. I really felt the weight of what these people go through on a daily basis, yet the ones who had accepted Christ clearly had an inner joy that defied reason.
Honestly, it’s hard to cram everything that happened into a short article. If you are curious for more details, please don’t hesitate to ask me, Margaret Bush, or Joan Stevning. We’d love to go on and on about the amazing experiences we’ve had while serving down there! God was clearly made known and glorified. And I can’t wait to go back again, if not next year, then at some point again in the future!
By Eric Roberson