Hello friends! I am almost done with month 7 in Guatemala, and I have been busy, sick, on vacation, busy, and sick again. That is the way it goes now. Still, I have been enjoying life.
Before I get all philosophical, let me share some encouraging news from our office here in Guatemala. HUGE PRAISE! Year-to-date, our office is giving thanks to the Lord for 35 victim rescues, 32 perpetrator arrests, 24 convictions, and 15 survivors who have graduated from our aftercare program. (Read more stories of IJM´s work around the globe here)
Also, since my last update a friend and former roommate left (Fran, I miss you!), a new friend and roommate came (zup Blake!), and an almost former roommate and good friend is leaving in less than two weeks (Ashley! Who is going to feed me now?).
In addition to this revolving door of friends coming and going, I went camping with Alejandro, Blake, Matt, and Alejandra, in one of the most beautiful places in Guatemala “Laguna Lachuá”.
And last, but not least:
I have to admit that my favorite moments of this month were: getting to meet incredible artists who empower at-risk kids with a project called I AM ART by Athentikos; an entire afternoon at a Día de Gozo (Day of Joy) for some of our clients and their families; and an afternoon at Casa Bernabé, an orphanage, celebrating a thanksgiving dinner.
Getting philosophical now –I have spent some time reading The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henry Nouwen– a Dutch priest who has some good wisdom to share. This book, along with a new baby sister, has me thinking about a powerful quote: “Though I am both the younger son and the elder son, I am not to remain them, but called to become the Father.”
I am not sure how to explain what is going on in my head and heart right now, but I will try. “Become like the Father” is a beautiful thought, and for sure it is what we aim to do with our lives – when we decided to relate with God as a father. But what happens when the image that we have of a father is not a good one? Do we really want to be like our father? Do we know the differences between our earthly fathers and our eternal father? Are there differences between them?
I am thinking about most of our primary participants here in Guatemala, girls and boys that have been sexually assaulted, and sadly a lot of the perpetrators were their father figures -biological dad, stepfather, grandpa, etc. If I am honest, I am thinking about all the children around the world that do not have a father or have one but they wish they did not. I am thinking of fathers that abuse their children, dads that choose to leave them, choose other families or their jobs instead of them. Even worse, they neglect them. I know, I know. I am thinking about a lot of things that are quite depressing. But honestly, who would want to be like his/her father if the above was his description? I would not.
On the other hand, I am amazed by all the joy that can come from brokenness. I am transformed and my spirit is renewed every time I spend days like the ones I described before- with children that cry and sing at the same time. Days were I am surrounded by children that have been exposed to horrible realities yet have beautiful smiles! Children that have suffered under oppression and violence, nevertheless they keep hugging you because they still have hope. Deep inside they know evil will not prevail and are willing to give you a chance to prove that to them while you love them.
As I look back to days where I have been frustrated with work, my performance at work (where, to be honest, I have been feeling quite stupid and useless lately), my not-so-good health, and all the brokenness inside of my own heart, I can see God´s faithfulness. I understand that God is faithful even when I am not. I know that what I have seen these last months are glimpses of restoration. I have seeing the Father´s love, the one that is not like our earthly father´s love. I have witnessed an eternal love that restores and is near to us- pieces of heaven that pictures and words cannot describe but somehow children are able to express.
I pray and hope that wherever you are today you can see those glimpses of restoration, hope & love around you!
“We need to be angels for each other, to give each other strength and consolation. Because only when we fully realize that the cup of life is not only a cup of sorrow but also a cup of joy will we be able to drink it.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen