So the adventure begins… 6 countries, 4 continents, 1 heavy backpack and 3 months of travelling the globe! Excitement levels were sky high as our team of 13 arrived at Denver airport, ready for what we had been anticipating and working towards for the past two months of training at YWAM.
It was a funny feeling, leaving on another voyage from a place that wasn’t actually home… An adventure on top of an adventure! Our first stop was Guatemala. I really didn’t know much about Guatemala before arriving on its doorstep, besides it being a Spanish-speaking nation situated in Central America.
As we began to drive through Guatemala City, a sense of faint familiarly washed over me- this place how I had always envisioned Mexico to look. A colourful mismatch of derelict buildings, American fast food chains, roadside taco stands and stray dogs litter the streets. The extremities of this city are more than apparent. Fancy shopping centers and sound infrastructure unnervingly contrast the filthy sidewalks, dilapidated houses and unmistakable smell of sewage. Second-world countries tend to be like this- a confusing mishmash of wealth and poverty. During our two weeks in Guatemala, we partnered with an organization called the Streets Revolution. Our contact took us around to partake in a wide range of ministries which they run throughout Guatemala City. Here are just two of the many ministries we took part in during our stay in Guatemala:
The Streets- Reality hit like a ton of bricks as our eyes were open to the homelessness in Guatemala. Hopelessness welled up in the eyes of the teenagers sprawled along the sidewalk. This was their home.
Thousands of people, like the very ones before our eyes, flee from home when they are in their teenage years after suffering from abuse, violence and mistreatment. None of them want a life of living on the streets- but for many of them, they have no choice. As we sat and hung out with these street youth, an even sadder reality was made apparent to us. Bottle of clear liquid were constantly being refilled and exchanged. We late found out it was shoe glue- they would sniff it to get high on a daily basis, subsequently frying their brains. As a young boy in front of me went from big smiles and handshakes to eyes rolling back and passing out, compassion struck me to the core.
We enter one particularly grim area, the Bus Terminal, where homelessness, poverty, prostitution and drug exchanges reigned prevalent on each corner. Every eye on the street was glued to us- the light-skinned, light-haired foreigners. We entered the area with one simple aim- spreading light into the darkness.
There wasn’t much we could do to physically change the situation of these individuals, but we could pour genuine love and kindness into their lives. Despite the language barrier, as we sat on the streets for hours, playing massive games of Uno, drawing pictures, singing songs, painting the lady’s nails, washing the feet and treating infections of those who needed it, we were able to build relationships with these individuals living on the streets.
Although it was a big challenge the first week we entered these areas on the street, when we came back for a second time to see the same people, it was clear God was truly moving in these places, bringing hope to the hopeless and love to the unloved. With the help of our translators, we got to pray and encourage so many of the individuals we came in contact with. We saw God working time after time- one boy on the streets gave his life completely over to Christ in front of our eyes! It was so beautiful to watch- he even gave one of the only things he owned, a cross necklace, over to the guy on our team who led him in prayer. So many others were moved to tears as they received tangible touches of the Holy Spirit. Another girl (pictured below) had pain burning in her face, which she had been experiencing for a very long time. After we prayed for her, Jesus completely healed her of all of the pain and she said she felt his warmth… It was so incredible to witness!
Kids Clubs: Our ministry continued to areas populated with children, who would swarm out of their abodes for kids club. One place we ran the kids club hardly felt real. A rubbish dump, overflowing with rotting fish, an endless amount of decomposing produce and even cow carcasses. An overwhelming stench filled the air. It was almost impossible to believe my eyes as I saw, among the piles of rubbish, little children coming out of the tarp shelters they lived in with their families. This was their home, living in a literal dump.
During the Kids Clubs, we sang songs, drew pictures, taught bible stories, and handed out food to the kids. It was incredible the way we could communicate with these children despite the language barrier. The smiles that would light up their faces and joy in their laughter as they would climb all over would simultaneously make and break my heart. Most of these kids had so little, yet they were still so full of joy. What a life lesson we can learn from these children- to maintain childlike joy in our hearts no matter what situations we face in our lives. It certainly has inspired me to do so. Being in Guatemala has been both a challenging and an incredible experience. I have grown such a heart for the beautiful people of this country, and I really have loved the opportunity to go in and be able to pour out love on them. I can hardly believe this is just the beginning of our Around the World trip!
Can’t wait for the rest of the adventure to continue, and I will try keep the blog updated as much as I am able to whilst I am on the road.
Sending love to everyone from around the globe!