We are currently hosting a team from Piedmont Church in Macon, Georgia. They are busy working by painting the building and raising a roof over our feeding center. I have been incredibly encouraged by the fun they are having with the students and their willingness to jump into unfamiliar and sometimes awkward situations. I wanted to reflect though on the time spent last week with our friends from Virginia. I am not praising them for any specific work or action, but I am praising God for his perfect timing and ever present handiwork in the ministry of Love Guatemala, in my life, and in the places I do not see.
Virginia Team 6 as I affectionately named them taught me a lot. They taught me through their kind words of appreciation they had for the staff here as well as towards the students. They encouraged deeply and allowed God to work in their lives during their time here. It was clear during our emotional goodbyes how much their hearts are for God and His work in and through Love Guatemala. They sponsor many students here and have built lasting relationships with them. As I said in my previous post, they keep coming. They believe that their time and money is best spent to physically come and share life with the students. With them, they brought gifts for the students, and many practical things needed by the various schools. I used to not be a tremendous fan of short-term mission trips, but this team changed my ideology. They showed me that any amount of time is worth it because like Jesus, they build relationships. Sure money speaks, but relationship shouts!
And I heard it this week in the voices of our students on Monday asking when Miss Kim and her team from Virginia would return. I told them January, but to also be excited because we would have a team arriving Tuesday night led by their other friend, Pastor Jerry.
Last night Pastor Jerry with Piedmont Church shared with his team how necessary it is for us to view each person around us as Jesus. When we see Jesus, we cannot help but love and serve Him. With this idea in mind and the student’s questions as well, I couldn’t help but hear this clearly from Jesus, “When will you return to me?” Life with Jesus is a constant, “Return to me.” There is no condemnation. There is no shame. There is no wasted time or regret.
Today, I was able to watch as Telma and the team gave three pairs of plastic boots on our back porch to some of the poorest children I have met during my time here in Guatemala. It was a precious moment filled with joy. Truly. Then one of the girls became very sad. Sitting in the lap of an American teenager, she explained to me that she is sad because her mom is sad. Her mom is sad that she cannot provide for her children in a way that she wishes she could. How heartbreaking is that to hear that a child of no more than 5 years old is experiencing immense empathy for her own mother even when the child is not receiving what we consider some of life’s basic necessities! I saw Jesus in this child. Even in her pain and suffering, she was caring for someone else. Someone she dearly loves. Even during Christ’s passion, He was caring and thinking of us. Those He dearly loves.
Then I looked up, and I read the mural that Virginia Team 6 painted last week. It says,
“I lift my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? It comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2
In that moment, I heard Jesus say, “Return to me. In pain and difficulty, return to me.” I took a breath, translated to my American friends, and began to speak identity over this little girl. I told her of God’s love for her, how he understands her situation and home life, and most importantly how she is a daughter of the King. I told her how Jesus gives us hope and has plans for our lives that we could never dream about.
It was simple. “Return to me.” We have a Father in heaven who is good and in Him, we have a hope. I wanted to cry because I am beginning to hear too many of these tragic situations here in Magdalena. At times it would be very easy to give up hope. In these moments I am reminded that Jesus never gave up and He never will. I will choose to return to Him.
I lift my eyes to the mountains
Where does my help come from?
It comes from the LORD,
The Maker of Heaven and Earth.
Caleb the Intern