You may have noticed that I really like the word beautiful…I’m not really sure why, but to me, it is a much more genuine way to say “pretty” or “nice” or “sweet.” To me, the word beautiful encompasses much more than just physical aesthetic appeal. If something is truly beautiful, it is pleasant and delightful in every way. Anyway, that’s why I use the word beautiful so often. And now you will have more understanding of what I mean each time I use the word…
So, I have been in Guatemala for three and a half weeks, and I don’t have sufficient words to express all of what I have experienced here. It has been a time of spiritual growth, learning about a new culture, developing relationships with beautiful people, and allowing God to use me in areas that I didn’t even expect before coming to Guatemala.
One of the first things that I always notice in the people of Guatemala are their beautiful eyes. I know a lot of people with big, bright, gorgeous eyes, but the eyes of the people here in Guatemala are absolutely stunning. Every time I meet new people here, and get to hear their stories, whether pleasant or heart wrenching, I can see how their eyes tell their stories. It is my prayer for all of the people I meet here that their stories become beautifully touched by the presence of God in their lives. I have already seen Him at work in so many ways.
Through working with the missionaries of PILAS Ministries (Gerry and Barbara Normand), I have also had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a beautiful community in Sumpango, Guatemala. The Normands do so much for the people of Sumpango and the surrounding villages, beyond just giving scholarships to the students of their own ministry. They bring medicine to families in need, visit families that just need a smiling face, a prayer, a hug, or even help resolving family issues. They give their students and acquaintances in the community an open invitation to their home in the evenings after they get back from doing youth groups in the local villages and all day on Sundays as well. The Normands create a beautiful community through their ministry. They cultivate relationships and let people know that they really care. They don’t just meet people’s momentary physical needs and leave to live comfortably in their own home. They want to know how people are doing emotionally and spiritually too.
The other day, I was with Barbara after we had youth group in a village. We ran into one of their former youth group participants, who was clearly struggling through life. She looked tired and worn from hard work. As Barbara spoke with their friend, she clearly expressed compassion for the hard work that this girl was enduring. She was encouraging, but did not dismiss the girl’s difficult situation. At the end of the conversation, Barbara told the girl that she was welcome to come over with her best friend whenever she wanted, just to hang out. There have been so many other times in which the Normands have shown their care for the day-to-day lives of the people they know and have developed relationships within the villages around Sumpango.
I have been so blessed to be a part of this beautiful community for the past few weeks, and it brings tears to my eyes to think about not being here in ten days.
True and beautiful community is something that I think many people lack. It is something that I have been very passionate about since before I came to Guatemala. Christians are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and I believe that looks a little different for everyone. However, another thing that I believe is that it doesn’t look like people going to serve in a soup kitchen once a month, then forgetting about the physical, emotion, and spiritual needs of the people they served the other 29 or so days of the month.
I think the most beautiful thing about truly being the body of Christ is to invite people in. Share the bounty of Christ’s love all of the time in some capacity. I can speak for myself too…that I as a member of the body of Christ should be thinking more about extending the body, not just dwelling in a comfortable home, dorm, flat-screen-equipped living room, pantry-stuffed kitchen…I think you get the picture.
I love the quote from Shane Claiborne in which he says,“And I think that’s what our world is desperately in need of – lovers, people who are building deep, genuine relationships with fellow strugglers along the way, and who actually know the faces of the people behind the issues they are concerned about.”
I need to do more than just help feed a hungry belly once a month. I need to show that I really care. I need to really live life with the people I say that I love. Right now, I am getting to live life with the people of Guatemala— who I love. I pray for God’s grace so that I will continue to live life with the people that I love wherever I am.