By Ruth Daniels, International Event and Teams Coordinator
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!” – Isaiah 52:7
We really feel blessed to have taken the good news of peace and salvation of our Lord to various remote places in the mountains of Guatemala. Through bumpy rides, rough roads, and long walks up and down mountains, the Lord was with us, and we were able to minister to so many in need of experiencing the love of our Savior. Even in the garbage dump filled with mounds of trash, terrible stenches, swarming flies, pervasive dirt, circling vultures, and unimaginable working conditions, we were not stopped from serving the King of kings!
Walking up the mountains, visiting the villages of Milpas Altas, Guatemala, there are none or a few very small churches. This was a unique experience for us. As the Lord has lavished his love on us, our team lavished His love on the people who live in those remote places. Our ministry partners shared with us that \ most humanitarian organizations don’t come to the region because of how remote it is. So we felt blessed to have started the groundwork of planting a church in this area.
Throughout our time in Milpas Altas, God used our team to spread the Gospel and open doors for local pastors. Since our team was so small, we really needed to rely on one another. We all did a little of everything. On day two of our ministry, we worked in San Miguel Milpas Altas and touched many lives physically and spiritually through the medical clinics. We visited more than 15 homes, met lots of people on the road, and distributed about 300 pieces of clothing and shoes.
Most NGOs work in the main towns and forget the farmers and their families that live in the hard-to-reach places of the mountains. These families feel forgotten and isolated. Having visited them and delivered clothing to their children was so uplifting. We prayed for most of the families.
We were surprised to find a woman and her baby there—two people we had treated at the base of the mountain. We were able to clothe her children and pray with her, doing the same for many others. Most of the people had never heard prayer as a personal dialogue with God, who is accessible and real.
Some of the farm laborers were women who were hired to work the land. They earn about $5 a day. Since most of the mothers work in the fields, they are unable to fix lunch for their children. So the only food they can leave for the children to eat is hot dogs and ramen noodles. This makes for a poor diet. Hilmar, the ministry partner who invited RSA to come to Milpas Altas, is now looking to begin a feeding center in the mountain community and to plant a church. Praise the Lord!
Although conditions in the garbage dump in Chimaltenango were horrible, we were trained to set up a medical clinic quickly, and we were ready within five minutes to begin treating people who work recycling trash at the dump. We had to be efficient because the people couldn’t afford wait very long–their work is their livelihood. We gave out free medicines, vitamins, and pain killers.
Don, our medical practitioner, said that this was a more memorable trip for him, because patients usually come and go. But on three different occasions people come back to say, “Thank you.” In the morning at the center in Santa Lucia, Don saw a girl who was crying because she had a chronic headache and her eyes were blurry. We prayed for her right there as she cried. He gave her medicine for the headache and vitamins, and that was it. The next morning at the VBS, she thanked Don for the medicine with a big hug and smile, and said, “My headache is gone!”
Our team also shared Jesus at an elementary and middle school. At the middle school, we found that they had only one teacher to manage four classrooms at once. The children were quiet and respectful, but they hardly engaged with us. On a personal note, it was so encouraging to me to see my son, Carl, share his faith in Christ for the first time. He came back so blessed by the experience that he is excited for the next mission trip. We shared the Gospel and offered them copies of The Living Water booklet, and the whole classroom raised their hands to receive one. It is amazing to think that these simple booklets could leave a major impact on the community as they are read and shared between the people.
On our fifth day of ministry, we worked with our partners at Ministerios Amor y Vida to provide breakfast, medical care, and the Gospel to workers at a garbage dump in Chimaltenango. Over half of the workers stopped what they were doing as we offered food, treatment, and prayer. A mother and her children were so moved by the care they received that they decided to come to church the next day to praise God. It was really moving to see them again. We prayed over those who came and were hurting, and we felt the Holy Spirit’s presence with us so strongly.
This church was mourning the loss of its pastor’s wife, who recently died of cancer. Its elders had stepped up to lead it while the pastor was still gone. Don shared his testimony and after the service, we had a time of prayer and encouragement. We talked to the church about how God is the potter and we are the clay. The pottery was perfectly created by God, but then the Devil came and smashed the perfect vessels. He has done the same thing with us. We are smashed by all the ugly stuff that goes on in our lives. But Christ has come and grabbed all those pieces and put them back together. We won’t be perfect until he comes back, but when He comes into our lives, His light shines within us; it glows through our cracks. We should not be discouraged because of our cracks, because through them, we can show Christ’s light and love in us.
The most amazing thing is that we thought we were doing this trip for the Lord. But He actually allowed us to go so He could do something in our lives—our very souls. We have been forever changed. We experienced Him in so many ways: through His Body and the ministry partners we worked with, through His gorgeous creation of the volcanos and terrain in Guatemala, and through the love we received back from those to whom we ministered. We will be forever grateful to Him for lavishing His love on us on this trip. Can’t wait for our next adventure with the King!