The second day of my frist Missions trip. Book of Hope Day 2. Guatemala 2004.
Monday, March 8, 10:00 PM
It has been a long day. We were up at 5:40 this morning getting ready for our first day of presentations. We ate breakfast, packed up, and headed out at 7:15. We got to our first school a little before 8. I saw my first school in Guatemala city , I was amazed at how small it was. We were definitely in one of the poorer parts of town. Even though the place we are staying at compares to a lower end US motel, this place seems like a palace compared to the environment these kids go to school in. Most of the kids were between 6 and 12 years old. Our first performance was somewhat rough, but we made it through and distributed the books.
We were back on the road by 9 to head to another school. We setup and did another presentation to another 300 kids. This one was a little better – we did the same routine for this group. We were then going to do another presentation for another part of the school, but it was their recess time when we were about to setup. We were told recess would only last 15 minutes, so we waited. We got to play with many of the kids during this time. They love to get in pictures with you or to have you write your name on a piece of paper. These kids are so happy to be there. I am in complete awe at how little they have. I know the digital camera I am using to take pictures probably cost more then their family may see in a year. The kids were so energetic and receptive – I was completely blown away. The girls loved to kiss me on the cheek. They would beckon me to bend down then they would all line up – some 20 of them and give me kisses. All of the guys wanted to shake my hand or give me a high five. They seemed just so happy. To think of all of the things that we have, yet we seem so discontented. These kids have nothing yet are full of joy and an energetic spirit. We finally left these kids. I felt like somebody famous, there were like bouncer kids in orange vests that would hold the kids back on our way out.
We then headed to our next school – a Catholic school to deliver the books. We were unable to do any presentations because they were worried about any religions things we might say that would be different than what they were telling the kids. But we were able to go into each classroom and talk about the book and about the bracelets that we were also giving to the younger children.
After this we went to have lunch at this church type place. I was expecting something a bit nicer than what we had seen all day, but no. After driving through what I would not consider roads, we made it to this door. We went in to find a fairly large room with a very short table and benches. There was a bathroom up stairs, but it was merely a non-functioning toilet. We had to pour water into it to flush it. The food tasted surprising good, especially the carrot soup. They pastor and his wife were so delighted to have us. I was really surprised at their genuine appreciation for us coming. I mean I can’t really talk to anybody here at all because of the language barrier. I feel like I’m not really doing a whole lot or helping much. After lunch we were very tired but still had 3 more school to visit today.
The next school we went to was actually the same school we had gone to visit earlier in the day, but the kids were completely different. The schools run a morning and evening shift so they can accommodate all the students. The younger kids go in the morning and the older kids in the afternoon. This time we had an amazing number of kids. We were told there were 800 kids in the open area we were doing our presentation (1837-1939). This was the first time I had to do my testimony. I was pretty nervous about sharing, but when it came to me, I was there. I felt like it went very well, I was somehow able to express myself in a way that sounded real and authentic. We then gave the books to all of the kids. This was very fun getting to hand each of them a book. They are so excited to receive this book from some Americans. Even though the book seems like something that is nothing to us, to these kids it is something from another world, something amazing, something intriguing. The “book” is the really a small magazine – maybe 50 pages in length. We then left this part of the school to travel back to the school we started at today.
This time we were going to present to kids about the same age as before. We were told there were about 400 kids at this presentation. The team was starting to get the hang of doing the skits and setting up and adapting to the different environments we were placed. We handed out the books again, and spent a few minutes to chat with the children, but we must be off again.
This time we were going to head back to the school we just came from. Except this time it would be to the other half – the high school half. Earlier in the day when we were at this school, we were told we were going to present to these high schoolers then, but when we arrived the principal was yelling at them because they were apparently being bad, so we couldn’t present at that time. So this them when we arrived I had this preconceived notion they were going to be trouble makers and unresponsive. Nevertheless we were still going to do this presentation. I believe many of us felt we wouldn’t be received well so we prayed as a group before this that our time there would be fruitful. During our first skit, I was dancing in entirely the wrong direction and had many of the students and the team laughing at me. But we immediately went into the next skit (2 masters) and it was executed very well. Again my turn to share my testimony; I was nervous again, but not as nervous as before. Plus I knew that my testimony is more directed at a high school age crowd, so I felt they may connect better. The students were surprisingly intent watching us and absorbing what we had to say. After I covered the humors part of the skit the entire crowd was silent during the rest of what I was sharing. I was completely blown away. I saw some of the kids standing off like they were too cool to listen at the beginning, but when I was sharing they were truly paying attention to what I had to say. I just kept talking – it was amazing. I will just say that it was not me; I know my abilities. Talking to people and getting my point across concisely and effectively is something I am unable to do. We followed with the skit we close every presentation with – Heroes, then had another testimony and the pastor invited the kids to the gathering we will be having later in the week. We then went around giving the books out to the kids. They did not run up to us begging for books like the younger kids, but they did accept it when we gave it to them. We could see that some of the kids definitely were thinking about the facts we shared with them during the presentation. One of the girls on the team approached a guy who had not received a book yet, but was standing off – you could tell he was thinking intently. He was one of the kids who at the beginning was showing that he was too cool for our presentation. She gave him a copy of the book and then told the pastor to talk to him. By the time we were packing up the guy was in tears. It is so amazing to see these things happen.
This trip was interesting too. We got to hear “cat” calls at one of our girls a few times. The funniest part is at the end the girls would approach me and ask my name. As soon as I would tell them they would run off. It was very funny to watch the girls be sort of flirtatious. When I was leaving I heard some call out for me with a world that describes me a blond boy, but I pretended I didn’t know what they were saying and packed up the van.
What a long day; schools and presentations from 8Am to 5Pm. The sun was very hot; we were either on hard dirt or concrete the entire day standing and moving around. Our legs and feet ache, but who cares. This has been such a great and fun day getting to see and share with many kids. The cooks back here at our place cooked a fantastic dinner and we walked around one of the little plazas here looking at stuff to possibly buy. We finished our night with devotions. It’s now time for bed so I can get 6 hours of sleep tonight.
Myself [Morning]: I will read Luke 13:34 and Luke 15:4-7. I will then describe my experience on the overlook. I want to emphasize that Jesus loves each and every kid and that is why we are here – to let them know of His love. … I shared exactly this in the morning, I think I was able to convey somewhat how intense my experience was on the overlook the night before.
Heidi [Evening]: Racing to the finish, we must endure, win the race, and claim our prize. Matt talked about some experiences with he has had in out countries doing this same thing. He shared one story I would like to remember. The father leaves the mother and kids to go to America to make money to send back home. The father calls and tells them, “bye” he is never coming back. The mother then meets a new boyfriend who convinces her to run away to Cuba . They didn’t have enough money to take the kids, so the mother left the kids. The oldest was a girl of 12 and she had two younger brothers. She could not make enough money to keep the three of them alive, she though death was the way out, but she did not want to leave the younger brothers there all alone. So one night she made three glasses of water filled with some chemicals she knew would kill them and awaited her brothers to come home from school. She was going to give it them first and then herself thinking her brothers would go to heaven and her to hell – but it would be better than earth. But that day, the younger brothers received “The Book of Hope” and when they got home they asked their sister to read it to them. As she read the book she poured out the glasses and promised to take the kids to the gathering later that week. At the end of the week rally, her and her younger brothers came to know the Lord and very soon after another family adopted all three of them. Even though I give out these books I have no clue the impact they could be having on the families at home tonight as I write this. Could many people’s lives be changed? Could the poverty stricken families that look at this book have new hope in their lives? I hope so.