There are many special moments that take place on the Operation Guatemala/El Salvador trip. Not the least of which are our team times. These moments together allow us to process what God has done throughout the day, worship God, laugh, cry, and learn about each other. One of the best parts of this year’s team time has been what our Guatemalan and El Salvadorian friends have shared with us. Today, I thought I’d share some of their words with you.
Caleb has been an interpreter with us on our past few trips. He is a young man who God has used to bless our team in many ways. He is passionate about his relationship with Christ and about bridging the cultural divide between U.S. Citizens and Central Americans. During our team time last night, Caleb shared that he had been suffering from depression for about three months. Our team brought him new hope. He said that he had smiled for the first time in months and remembered what was truly important in life. He is excited about going back to Guatemala City with a renewed vision for reaching others.
Paola is a young El Salvadorian woman who has worked with our medical team in clinics. She has been stationed in our outtake deparment and prays with every patient leaving the clinic. The other day I heard that she had actually prayed with 18 patients to receive Christ. What an evangelist. Paola has challenged her fellow El Salvadorian’s to be involved in ministry. At our team time she said, “We are the one’s who should be doing what these American students have come to do.” She was encouraged by our team and what happened here. You know what? I think our kids were more encouraged by her than we were to her. She demonstrated what it means to take a risk with sharing Christ within your own culture. May we be as involved with ministry when we get back as we have been here.
Dr. Byron is our team physician. He has been with us since we landed at the airport in Guatemala City. I have been so impressed with the tender care that he has taken with each patient that he has seen. For most of the trip he was our only doctor, seeing hundreds of patients, and he did it with a quiet dignity and utmost respect for each patient. He speaks no English, but has tried his best to not let that hinder his involvement with the team. Highly educated, he gave up two weeks at his clinic to serve the Lord on the mission field of his own country. Sunday was an off day for the clinic, and Dr. Byron had a chance to join our basketball and mime team for their game. He was so moved by our mime. At team time last night Dr. Byron explained through an interpreter that he had been involved in a Christian theater company for a number of years as the director, but found that he had become too busy to stay involved. He explained that he left without ever feeling like it was the right thing to do. This trip has convicted him that he needs to go back and restart that ministry so that he can reach more for the Gospel.
Edy has been our OGES bus driver since 1991. He is a bundle of energy and laughter. CBS should make a new sitcom called “Everybody Loves Edy.” Edy spoke last night about an experience he had with Peter Boyer, Kevin Franske, and Jaime Lopez. In Campur this group of four trudged through the rainforest to a community that was 45 minutes away from civilazation. 35 homes were all that are in this community. We provided solar powered lighting to the church that services these neighborhood. Edy said that the group of four were invited to eat lunch at the home of one of the families. Upon entering the home, the poverty of the family was evident. All of their earthly possessions were hanging on a shelf. A few clothes, a Bible, and some cooking utensils were about all they had. And yet, this family cooked a very special meal that all Guatemalans know about. It was a meal reserved for the most special of occasions. Edy was reminded about the needs in his own country and challenged not to discriminate against the poor.
Those are powerful words. i wanted you to know what’s been happening from the perspective of our Guatemalan and El Salvadorian friends.
The team is in Lake Atitlan today and will be exploring the shopping district of Panajachel. Pray that they don’t lose focus.
“For I long to see you that I might impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong. That is that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”